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Science On Top

English, Sciences, 5 seasons, 390 episodes, 3 days, 10 hours, 50 minutes
The Australian podcast about science, health and technology news. Join Ed Brown and his panel of co-hosts each week as we talk about the latest and coolest research and discoveries in the world of science. We're joined by special guests from all over the science field: doctors, professors, nurses, teachers and more.
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This podcast has come to an end. So long, and thanks for all the fish! Links to download the archive of all our episodes can be found here:
9/1/20234 minutes, 4 seconds
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A quick update

An update on what's happening with the show. The quick version: we're still here, but the world's on fire and things are a bit tough. We'll be back. Stay safe everyone.   Wednesday 5 August 2020
8/5/20203 minutes, 55 seconds
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SoT Bites 001 - Hot Drinks In Hot Weather

Here's a little taste of the sort of thing to expect when Science on Top returns very soon - on hot days are you better off drinking hot or cold drinks?
2/7/20208 minutes
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SoT Bites 001 - Cuttlefish Watching 3D Movies

Have you missed us? Looking forward to another season of Science on Top? Here's something to whet your appetite - a story of cute cephalopods, curious scientists and 3D glasses!
1/29/20207 minutes, 55 seconds
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SoT Special: 2018 Bloopers and Outtakes

2018 was a big year for science. Is saw the launch of the largest privately built reuseable rocket, the discovery a new organ, and understanding of the wombat's cubic poops. And we talked about all these stories and more on Science on Top. But not everything goes to plan, and this year was no exception! We had all sorts of Skype troubles, we forgot things, we were interrupted by dogs and phones… lots went wrong! But instead of losing the hilarious moments of chaos, we’ve saved them all for our traditional end of year bloopers episode. All the rants, the tangents, the swearing and the brain farts all put together for one long blooper reel! You must download or play the bloopers episode from our site: or on YouTube or Soundcloud!
2/11/20191 minute, 54 seconds
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SoT 319 error

Our latest episode, 319 - Number Five Is Alive, had a pretty major glitch in that Lucas' track wasn't there at all. I realised the mistake shortly after posting it, and thought I had replaced it with the correct version, but obviously it didn't replace the file. I've re-uploaded it and tested it now, it definitely works! So if you had any trouble playing that episode - specifically if it sounds like Lucas is being rude and not talking - then you may have to re-download that file again. Or, you can listen on our website, YouTube, Stitcher or SoundCloud.   This is what happens when you upload the podcast late on a Friday night after a few drinks... :-(
12/15/20181 minute, 13 seconds
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SoT 307: Honest, Dishonest, Or Delusional

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall 00:00:56 We're hosting Dr. Pamela Gay for a talk, Q&A session and live show in Melbourne on Wednesday 10 October! Tickets $20 from All proceeds go to the non-profit Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 00:02:06 A study finds that smaller dogs lift their legs higher when they pee. Could they be lying, and trying to fool other dogs? 00:09:30 After a delayed first attempt, NASA's Parker Solar Probe has been successfully launched on a course for the Sun. This will be the fastest spacecraft ever made, and will get up close and personal with our nearest star. For more on solar research, listen to our interview from last year with Professor Lucie Green. 00:20:21 Geologists have been studying tiny grains found in a Russian meteorite. They've found a new mineral, that they call uakitite, which has never before been found on Earth.   This episode contains traces of National Party of Australia deputy leader Bridget McKenzie daring to say "the C-word".
8/21/201826 minutes, 5 seconds
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SoT 286: The Superb Bird-Of-Paradise And Magnificent Riflebird

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall 00:00:55 On January 31st, a super blue blood moon could be seen from Australia, South East Asia and the West Coast of the US. A super moon is when the moon is at its closest point in its orbit to Earth, a blood moon is a total lunar eclipse where the moon turns orange-red, and a blue moon is a second full moon in a calendar month. 00:03:50 Researchers using high-tech LIDAR have found more than 60,000 previously undetected Mayan buildings, defence installations and pyramids in the dense jungle in Guatemala. 00:09:58 A team led by NOAA scientist Camryn Allen has been studying the Pacific green sea turtle in the Great Barrier Reef. Worryingly, she's found that most of them are female. 00:16:17 A glaciology postdoc at Princeton University has proposed an audacious plan to reduce or delay the threat of catastrophic sea-level rise. Michael Wolovick wants to build walls to stop glaciers sliding off Antarctic land into the ocean. 00:24:02 An analysis of birds-of-paradise feathers led by Dakota McCoy from Harvard University, has discovered exactly how the birds achieve the blackest of blacks.   This episode contains traces of BBC Breakfast hosts Dan Walker and Louise Minchin discussing a killer whale that has been 'taught' to 'speak' English.
2/11/201834 minutes, 15 seconds
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SoT Special: 2017 Bloopers and Outtakes

2017 was a big year for science. Gravitational waves were detected four times, it was the end of Cassini's mission, and lady dragonflies faked their own deaths to avoid sex. And we talked about all these stories and more on Science on Top. But not everything goes to plan, and this year was no exception! We had all sorts of Skype troubles, we forgot things, we were interrupted by dogs and phones... lots went wrong! But instead of losing the hilarious moments of chaos, we've saved them all for our traditional end of year bloopers episode. All the rants, the tangents, the swearing and the brain farts all put together for one long blooper reel! There's even an entire story that was cut from the regular show that we've included out of the kindness of our hearts. You must download or play the bloopers episode from our site: or on YouTube or Soundcloud!
12/30/20172 minutes, 13 seconds
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SoT 285: Our Favourite Science Stories of 2017

  Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall 00:01:08 Six reasons why the latest gravitational wave discovery is huge 00:07:36 Scientists solve Roman concrete puzzle 00:11:01 A look back at Cassini's incredible mission to Saturn before its final plunge into the planet 00:14:09 The first results from the Juno mission 00:17:40 A Dinosaur So Well Preserved, It Looks Like a Statue 00:20:47 We created a song that makes babies happy 00:23:33 A Thorny Debate in Plate Tectonics May Finally Be Resolved 00:25:50 Why Female Dragonflies Go to Extreme Lengths to Avoid Sex Plus we interviewed some great people this year: Robin Ince Lucie Green Steve Salisbury Lynne Kelly Katie Mack
12/23/201731 minutes, 45 seconds
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SoT 284: The Executive Committee Range

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall 00:01:07 Antarctica is littered with volcanoes, and while there hasn't been a major eruption in 8,000 years, there are signs that there might be one coming. 00:12:48 Rock art in Saudi Arabia dates back thousands of years, and possibly features the oldest images of dogs. 00:17:53 The "Cat's Brain" long barrow in Wiltshire, near Stonehenge dates back to around 3,800BC. It's recent excavation offers new insights into Britain's neolithic civilisation.We were reminded of our fascinating discussion earlier this year with Dr. Lynne Kelly. 00:22:32 When a star goes supernova it usually appears to us as a very bright star that hangs around for maybe 3 or 4 months. But a newly analysed supernova stuck around for more than 2 years, getting brighter and dimmer throughout that period. 00:32:34 Researchers in West Australia have discovered and identified eight new species of spinifex grass, and one of them tastes like salt and vinegar chips!   This episode contains traces of "Come to Australia" by the Scared Weird Little Guys.
12/11/201738 minutes, 3 seconds
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SoT 283: Multicellular Life Is Everywhere

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday. 00:01:03 Stromatolites - rocky mounds made of bacterial colonies - have been around for at least 3.5 billion years. But the rise of multicellular life wiped them out except for in a few salty marine locations. Now researchers have discovered some in a remote freshwater wetland in Tasmania. 00:06:51 You wouldn't think it would matter if you were injured in the daytime or at night - but it does. Wounds inflicted during the day can heal nearly twice as fast. 00:11:14 What if the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs had struck the Earth somewhere different? It may be that if it had impacted nearly anywhere else on the planet the dinosaurs may have survived. 00:16:14 The fungus that invades ants and controls them while it kills them is pretty horrific. But it's even worse than we thought - the ants are aware and conscious the whole time, while their limbs are being controlled by the fungus!   This episode contains traces of Virtual Field Trips' explanation on how stromatolites got their name.
12/2/201724 minutes, 44 seconds
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SoT 282: Funny Little Organism

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shyane Joseph, Penny Dumsday. 00:01:08 A 7-year-old boy's life is saved from a rare skin disease after researchers genetically modify and grow his skin in a lab. 00:07:25 The widespread use of penicillin may been a factor in the very early development of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). 00:15:06 A new study suggests that while cold blooded dinosaurs ruled the daytime, mammals evolved to be nocturnal. And when the dinosaurs were wiped out, many mammals switched back to diurnal life. 00:19:21 NASA scientists say the giant hole in the ozone layer is shrinking, and is now the smallest it's ever been since 1988. 00:24:15 Eleven papers have been published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases and presented at the recent scientific meeting revealing the scale and damage caused by streptococcus infections. The authors have called for an acceleration in the development of a streptococcus vaccine.   This episode contains traces of protestors crashing a side event at the 23rd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP 23. The US sent only a small delegation of low-level Whitehouse staffers and representatives from fossil fuel and nuclear power organisations to speak on a panel. Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg observed that “promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.”  
11/19/201731 minutes, 42 seconds
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SoT 281: Little Bit Magnificent Goat

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall 00:00:51 A strange rock hurtling through space turns out to be the first known detection of a visitor from another solar system! By which we mean: not aliens. 00:15:08 Lentils might not sound like exciting archaeological discovery, but a find at the prehistoric site of Gurga Chiya in Iraqi Kurdistan could provide clues about the formation of permanent settlements and the development of social stratification. 00:22:45 Using muon-scanning technology, particle physicists have discovered a hidden void inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. But - surprise! - that's not as unusual or revolutionary as much of the media breathlessly reported.   This episode contains traces of archaeologist Zahi Hawass criticising the Great Pyramid void discovery on RT America.
11/13/201730 minutes, 33 seconds
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SoT 280: The 2017 Ig Nobel Prizes

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Dr. Mick Vagg. The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make us laugh, then make us think. We take a look at this year’s winners: from cats in jars to disgusting cheese! You can watch the award ceremony here. 00:01:30 The Physics Prize was awarded to French scientist Marc-Antoine Fardin, "for using fluid dynamics to probe the question 'Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?'" 00:06:20 The Peace Prize went to four doctors and one patient from Switzerland, Canada, The Netherlands and the USA "for demonstrating that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring". 00:10:19 The Economics Prize was presented to Australian Nancy Greer and American Matthew Rockloff "for their experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble". 00:17:56 The Anatomy Prize was won by James Heathcote from the UK, for his medical research study "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?" 00:20:59 The Biology Prize went to two scientists from Japan, one from Brazil, and one from Switzerland "for their discovery of a female penis, and a male vagina, in a cave insect". 00:25:27 The Fluid Dynamics Prize was awarded to South Korean Jiwon Han, "for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee". 00:29:53 The Nutrition Prize was presented to three scientists from Brazil, Canada, and Spain "for the first scientific report of human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat". 00:34:46 The Medicine Prize went to five scientists from France and the UK "for using advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese". 00:40:40 The Cognition Prize was awarded to four psychologists from Italy, Spain, and the UK "for demonstrating that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart visually". 00:45:00 The Obstetrics Prize went to a team from Spain "for showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother's vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother's belly".  
11/8/201756 minutes, 26 seconds
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SoT 279: Obviously, You've Missed The Bird

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall. 00:01:11 A fifth gravitational wave detection in just two years confirms the dawn of a new era in astronomy. And this one was not only caused by two neutron stars coliding, it was accompanied by gamma ray detections, gave us more clues to the size of the universe, and a better understanding of how gold is formed. 00:17:00 Bacteria inside cancer cells can weaken or destroy some chemotherapy drugs, rendering them useless. But antibiotics aren't necessarily the answer. 00:27:53 A quarter of cow DNA originally came from reptiles, thanks to retrotransposons - genes that jump from species to species.   This episode contains traces of Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery, host of "Kennedy" on Fox Business Network, discussing the gravitational wave discovery with physicist Dr. Michio Kaku.
11/1/201740 minutes, 49 seconds
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SoT 278: Nobel Prizes 2017

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall 00:02:51 The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017 was awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young "for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm". 00:08:40 The Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 was divided, one half awarded to Rainer Weiss, the other half jointly to Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves". 00:14:52 The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 was awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution". 00:20:18 They don't have brains, but jellyfish still seem to sleep. Three Caltech students studied jellyfish slumber and found it to be similar, but not the same, as human sleep. 00:28:58 Two separate teams have made the first detections of the roughly half of the normal matter in our universe unaccounted for by previous observations of stars, galaxies and other bright objects in space. This is not Dark Matter, but baryonic matter. 00:35:00 The kakapo is the world's largest flightless parrot, and it's critically endangered. But a conservation program aims to sequence the genome of every surviving kakapo, gathering considerably more data on the iconic New Zealand native.   This episode contains traces of a rare kakapo parrot meeting zoologist Mark Carwardine.  
10/24/201746 minutes, 35 seconds
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SoT Special 24 – Dr. Katie Mack

Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist. Her work focuses on finding new ways to learn about the early universe and fundamental physics using astronomical observations, probing the building blocks of nature by examining the cosmos on the largest scales. Ed and Lucas caught up with Katie to discuss the universe, travel, social media, and her new job at North Carolina State University. Katie's Twitter handle is @AstroKatie and her website is She also writes for Cosmos Magazine.
10/6/20171 hour, 12 minutes, 7 seconds
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SoT Special 23 – Dr. Lynne Kelly

Dr. Lynne Kelly is an Australian writer, researcher and science educator. She has written books on skepticism, crocodiles and spiders; and her latest book The Memory Code examines the traditional memory techniques of non-literate peoples. Her theory on the purpose of the Stonehenge megalithic, which she believes served as a center for the transmission of knowledge among Neolithic Britons, is rapidly gaining recognition among anthropologists. Ed, Penny and Lucas caught up with Lynne to talk all things memory.
9/28/201755 minutes, 35 seconds
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SoT 277: Stuck On Saturn Images

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Peter Miller 00:01:00 Surprisingly, a lot of plants in the tropics tend to have large leaves. A team of scientists at Macquarie University in Sydney may have worked out why: and it's a balancing act. 00:08:42 After 13 years, the Cassini mission is coming to a fiery end. It's been one of NASA's most successful - and beautiful - missions. 00:19:36 Data from the Juno spacecraft finds that Jupiter's powerful auroras aren't powered the same way that Earth's are. 00:30:28 Coffee County Soil Conservation District, in Tennessee, has found a new use for new underwear: testing soil. The degradation of the cotton underwear illustrates the abundance or shortage of microbes in the soil.   This episode contains traces of "NASA's Cassini Spacecraft: A Journey's End" video produced by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
9/20/201736 minutes, 28 seconds
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SoT 276: Fluffy Rocks

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:01:06 Another plate tectonics mystery could be solved: how thick is a continental plate? According to a study published in the journal Science, pretty thick - between 130 and 190km! 00:10:57 Mars' "bow shock" - where charged particles from the Sun interact with the red planet's atmosphere - has been studied by a team of European scientists. They found that the bow shock's location changes over several Martian years, for a variety of reasons. 00:14:43 Artificial organs don't have to be full sized and they don't have to be for transplants. Researchers around the world are building "mini-organs" - sometimes as small as a pencil point - for everything from neurological research to medication and drug tests. 00:35:37 A Saturn-like ringed planet, orbiting close to the star and at a sharp angle, could explain the strange dimming and brightening pattern of "Tabby's Star", according to a new theory proposed by a team at the University of Antioquia.   This episode contains traces of Elon Musk frankly discussing the challenges of the upcomning Falcon Heavy rocket launch.
9/10/201739 minutes, 35 seconds
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SoT 275: Almost Edible

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:01:12 Four years after a groundbreaking peanut-allergy study, researchers in Melbourne have followed up on the original patients. The results are promising, and could lead to a potential cure for one of the most common - and deadly - allergies. 00:16:59 A new study has discovered 91 new volcanoes beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet, making it one of the densest clusters of volcanoes in the world. 00:22:21 After more than a hundred years, a fruitcake from the famous Robert Scott expedition to the South Pole has been found in Antarctica's old building. And it's definitely probably maybe edible...   This episode contains traces of Fox News Channel host Shepard Smith being underwhelmed by the 2017 Solar Eclipse.
8/27/201730 minutes, 46 seconds
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SoT 274: The Armadillo Transformer

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:01:21 The largest dinosaur ever discovered, found in Argentina in 2013, is now officially known as the Patagotitan mayorum. 00:11:35 An amazingly well preserved dinosaur fossil found by Canadian miners is already giving lots of information about skin pigmentation, camouflage and even its last meal. Also it looks like a wingless dragon. 00:17:16 We're all made of star stuff, but not necessarily local star stuff. A new study based on supercomputer simulations shows that up to half of the atoms in our bodies came from galaxies outside our own. 00:23:49 How bees fly has long been considered a mystery to science. But now a mathematical analysis suggests their wings can maintain a higher angle of attack without stalling, thanks to leading edge vortices generated in front of the wings.   This episode contains traces of the Today Show hosts discussing a 9-year old boy's letter to NASA.
8/20/201730 minutes, 5 seconds
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SoT 273: The Last Place You Look

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:01:15 Just weeks after the really big iceberg split from the Antarctic ice shelf, a new rift has formed. And the giant iceberg has already begun breaking up. 00:07:14 A new study into the migration of early humans to Australia dates their arrival back to 65,000 years ago. And it also finds they were more sophisticated in their use of tools than we previously thought. 00:15:06 Rare fossilised footprints of Tasmanian tigers and devils, as well as those of giant megafauna and flightless birds, have been discovered on Kangaroo Island, in South Australia. The footprints date back as far as 200,000 years ago.   This episode contains a brief exchange between Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox. The interview went downhill very quickly.
8/11/201723 minutes, 4 seconds
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SoT 272: Raven Pocket

00:03:41 An enormous iceberg breaks off from Antarctica. But did climate change cause it, like many news outlets claimed? 00:13:34 Plants don't turn caterpillars into cannibals. But hungry caterpillars will turn cannibal if the plant doesn't taste nice. 00:21:53 Gene modification tool CRISPR has been used to encode an animated gif in the genes of live bacteria. DNA could be the digital storage device of the future! 00:34:03 Ravens are smart - they can use tools, and solve puzzles - and they may even be able to plan for the future.   This episode contains traces of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Mars 2020 Project Scientist Ken Farley during a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space and Technology's Space Subcommittee.
8/2/201755 minutes, 44 seconds
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SoT 271: Seductive Cockatoo Music

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:01:03 The Ancient Romans built sea walls with concrete that is still standing in many places today. What made their concrete so much stronger than modern concrete? 00:08:24 The chances of finding life on Mars grew even slimmer after a study found chemicals in the Martian soil are highly toxic. 00:15:54 Animals that use tools aren't uncommon, and neither are animals that make sounds to attract mates. But the Palm cockatoo could be the first non-human animal to do both - they use tools to make music. 00:28:47 In 1977 the Voyager spacecraft were launched carrying the Golden Records - gold-plated copper records containing images, sounds and music from Earth. And in one small segment of the record there's the sound of a man laughing. Adrienne LaFrance at The Atlantic wrote about her intensive investigation to track down who that man was and why his laughter is on a billion-year time capsule.   This episode contains traces of Al Gore talking about climate change on Triple J radio's Hack.
7/20/201732 minutes, 12 seconds
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SoT 270: Sweeping Majestically Across The Plain

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Sean Elliott 00:00:48 Sean talks about his Roughbot project, a programmable robot kit that introduces students to coding and robotics. 00:04:47 Every year, 1.2 million blue wildebeest migrate across East Africa, accompanied by around 200,000 zebra and antelope. At one point in their mass migration, however, they have to cross the mighty Mara River. Those that don't survive the crossing end up being crucial to the surrounding ecosystem. 00:11:13 Chinese researchers have for the first time ever sent entangled photons from space to ground stations on Earth. This record-breaking achievement could be the first step of a revolution in communications and encryption. 00:23:49 Scientists in Uganda have noticed that the hunting behaviour of chimpanzees has changed since humans began studying them. 00:34:17 Two researchers from Princeton and Harvard universities have come up with a theory to explain the different shapes of eggs from different bird species. It's all about aerodynamics!   This episode contains traces of Arnold Schwarzenegger talking to senior US Navy officials about climate change.
7/14/201741 minutes, 39 seconds
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SoT 269: LISA is Amazing!

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall 00:00:40 We welcome Lucas back to the show, and discuss his battles with depression. Lucas recently blogged about dealing with mental health in the workplace, and how different managers respond to cases of depression. 00:10:34 After three detections of gravitational waves by the ground-based LIGO detector, the European Space Agency has given the go-ahead for the LISA space-based detector. 00:15:42 A data visualisation takes a deep look at the statistics of human birth. And while we tend to think of it as being a random process, there's a large spike in births at 8am. 00:19:42 The New Horizons spacecraft has a new target - Kuiper Belt Object MU69 - which recently came between Earth and a distant star. This caused a huge (and highly successful) global effort to view it with ground-based telescopes.   This episode contains traces of banter between former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and former bankrupt casino-owner President Donald Trump.
7/8/201740 minutes, 2 seconds
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SoT 268: The Deadiest Ones

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Jo Benhamu. 00:00:40 An archaeological site in a Moroccan cave has long been known to have specimens of early humans. But an recent study has dated some of these bones to over 300,000 years old. If correct, that would make them the oldest fossilised remains of modern humans ever found - and it would change our understanding of the spread of humans out of Africa. For books to help explain evolution to young children, we recommend Grandmother Fish by Jonathan Tweet and Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came To Be by Daniel Loxton. 00:10:34 In the latest send-animals-to-space experiment, flatworms were studied on the International Space Station. And things got weird - especially with one worm that grew two heads! 00:15:42 Recently a lot of scientists have been suggesting that we're currently in the midst of a sixth mass extinction - and we humans are the prime cause of it. But Smithsonian paleontologist Doug Erwin argues that we're not there yet. Things are bad but to call it a mass extinction isn't really accurate. 00:19:42 And are humans hard-wired to look at faces? A study shines a light on what babies see in the womb.   This episode contains traces of John Oliver talking about vaccines on Last Week Tonight.
6/28/201737 minutes, 30 seconds
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SoT 267: Come See The Mass Spawning!

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday 00:00:40 There's a lot of talk about the supposed health benefits of sourdough bread. But a new study seems to suggest that some people may be better off eating white bread, and others may have more to gain from sourdough bread. 00:10:34 A group of about 1200 giant bumphead parrotfish have been caught in the act of mating off Palau in Micronesia. It's the first time they have ever been seen doing so in such large numbers. 00:15:42 A strain of the lactobacillus bacteria has been extracted from yogurt and used to slow down the growth of 14 multidrug-resistant bacteria.   This episode contains traces of a message from French President Emmanuel Macron to American climate change researchers.
6/20/201722 minutes, 38 seconds
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SoT 266: Sperm Whales Have Teeth

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday. 00:00:39 Baleen whales - the toothless filter feeders - used to be around 10m long. Then 3 million years ago they started to grow to the enormous size they are today (blue whales can grow be 30 metres long!). 00:07:08 A new study has found that gastric bypass surgery disrupts the gut microbiome so significantly, that patients have a completely different bacteria makeup in their guts after surgery. And the new gut flora appears to promote weight loss. 00:14:14 An increase in the number of baby dugongs on the Great Barrier Reef indicates a revival of seagrass meadows following the devastation wrought by Cyclone Yasi in 2011. 00:18:11 Newly developed recognition software is helping underwater drones search for submerged mines and even map starfish colonies. Not only do the drones pilot themselves, they use pattern-matching to identify points of interest and relay that back to humans.   This episode contains traces of meteorologist Kait Parker at The Weather Channel responding to Breitbart's misrepresentation of climate data.
6/10/201725 minutes, 36 seconds
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SoT 265: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely. 00:01:03 The first results from the Juno spacecraft are in, giving us new and surprising insights into the largest planet in our solar system. 00:09:39 Some media reports of flooding at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault were somewhat exaggerated. Some water got in at the front door, which happens every year, but the seeds were never in any danger. 00:14:36 Have you ever seen a flamingo fall over? Probably not. Turns out they're extremely stable, especially on one leg. A pair of biologists set out to find out why. 00:22:11 The first steps have been taken towards space-based baby-making, with healthy mouse pups being born from sperm that went to space. 00:29:28 Please help support the show by pledging on Patreon!   This episode contains traces of astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson talking with President Trump, after breaking the US record for the most time in space. Dr. Whitson was already the world's most experienced spacewoman and the oldest woman in space.
6/4/201731 minutes, 58 seconds
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SoT 264: A $500 Car

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday. 00:00:41 Rare childhood cancers are, of course, rare. But that means limited access to tissue samples making them harder to study. But the archives of London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children could be a previously unconsidered repository of 165 year's worth of samples. 00:05:34 There's a species of bacteria that seems to use quorum sensing to switch on or off its attacking abilities. And that's how it infects animals where normally it would only thrive in insects. 00:12:44 For the third time since 2012 a study has looked at whether the famous Stradivarius violins made in the early 18th century are actually better than their modern counterparts. They aren't. 00:21:55 A new study suggests that the microbes in our guts may initiate disease in seemingly unrelated organs, and in completely unexpected ways. In particular, our gut bacteria may be linked to brain lesions that can cause strokes.   This episode may contain traces of morning television presenters discussing the 'scientific benefits' of eating snot, as reported on the ABC's Media Watch program.
5/24/201732 minutes, 41 seconds
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SoT 263: There's Always An Enzyme

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday 00:00:48 A study seemed to find a link between artificially sweetened drinks and serious health problems. Many media outlets quickly proclaimed that "Diet drinks triple your risk of stroke and dementia" (Daily Fail). But how seriously should that study be taken? 00:05:27 Humans produce about 311 million tons of plastic each year, a number that's is predicted to double in the next twenty years. But an accidental discovery from a Spanish bee scientist points to some caterpillars that might help break plastic down. 00:12:07 A new paper published in the journal Ecology finds that female dragonflies are faking their own deaths in order to get away from horny males! 00:17:34 A team led by Viviane Slon from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has managed to extract and sequence the DNA of ancient animals from sediment - not bone - that's up to 240,000 years old.   This episode contains traces of Mary Bubala and Tracey Leong talking about artificial sweeteners on CBS Baltimore.
5/18/201724 minutes, 24 seconds
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SoT 262: Cassini's Grand Finale

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall 00:00:47 NASA's Cassini probe has been studying Saturn and it's rings and moons for thirteen years and is now running out of fuel. And as it comes to the end of it's life, it's begun a series of risky orbits between the planet and its rings. 00:11:03 A team of researchers mostly from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have successfully created an artificial womb in which premature lambs can be brought to term. 00:17:37 NASA and ESA have produced a joint proposal to explore Jupiter's icy moon Europa.   This episode contains traces of NASA at Saturn: Cassini's Grand Finale, a video by NASA explaining the Cassini mission and the end of its mission.
5/9/201729 minutes, 46 seconds
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SoT 261: Mr. Bigglesworth

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall 00:00:43 The naked mole rat is one of the strangest - certainly the ugliest - creatures on the planet. But on top of all it's other extraordinary abilities (highly resistant to cancer, limited ability to feel pain etc) it can also survive for up to 18 minutes without oxgyen. 00:08:35 For a long time we've assumed our nearest extra-solar neighbour, the Alpha Centauri system, was a trinary star system. But for the first time the calculations have been done to confirm it.   This episode may contain traces of what Neil DeGrasse Tyson calls the most important words he has ever spoken.
5/1/201722 minutes, 14 seconds
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SoT 260: The Planetary Protection Office

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Jo Benhamu 00:02:34 For the first time, an atmosphere has been detected around a nearly Earth-sized exoplanet. 00:08:45 Results of a large study suggest that a cap that generates electric fields might successfully fight brain cancer. But there are still many doubts about this "sci-fi treatment". 00:27:06 There's a radiation-resistant bacterial spore found only in spacecraft cleanrooms. To know if they might potentially contaminate other worlds, NASA needed to see if they can survive in space. So, they sent some into space! 00:35:31 What if identifying and monitoring the 3,000 different species of mosquitoes was a simple matter of using an app on your phone? A pair of engineers at Stanford University are working on creating "Shazam for mosquitoes"! 00:43:01 For more information, or to get in touch with us, or to donate head to   This episode contains traces of Dara O'Briain talking about the War on Bacteria.
4/26/201745 minutes, 3 seconds
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SoT Special 22 – Dr. Steve Salisbury

Dr Steve Salisbury is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Queensland, and a Research Associate at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Ed and Lucas spoke with him about finding the world's largest dinosaur tracks on the North West coast of Australia, and searching for dinosaur fossils in Antarctica.
4/17/201741 minutes, 23 seconds
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SoT 259: That's His Blowhole!

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall 00:01:03 The difficult thing to do when growing artificial organs is building the intricate networks of tiny blood vessels that keep the tissue alive. A team at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts found a simple way to do that: with spinach. 00:12:00 Set to launch in 2018, the Solar Probe Plus is a mission to study the Sun from a very close distance - about 6 million kilometres. It will become the fastest manmade object ever built. 00:21:49 A team of ecologists and microbiologists have been studying the bacteria found in the blowholes of killer whales. And while their results were somewhat worrying, they're not as conclusive as many media reports have claimed.   This episode contains traces of Elon Musk after SpaceX successfully reused a rocket.
4/10/201732 minutes, 32 seconds
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SoT Special 21 – Professor Lucie Green

Professor Lucie Green is a Professor of Physics and a Royal Society University Research Fellow who studies the sun. Ed and Lucas sat down with her to talk about solar research, the Solar Orbiter mission, the Carrington Event, the Eclipse Mega Movie project and much more!
4/2/201751 minutes, 46 seconds
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SoT 258: An Elephant Never Sleeps

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday 00:01:05 By monitoring two wild elephants, researchers have found that elephants in the wild only have about two hours of sleep each night, and sometimes they go for days without sleep. 00:08:21 Archaea are single-celled organisms that are difficult to study, so scientists don't study them. "Because they don't study them, they don't know very much about them. Because they don't know very much about them, they don't know how best to study them." 00:24:46 How and when did modern humans come to Australia? We have evidence of human habitation dating back to 50,000 years, but no further. Now the genomes of 111 Indigenous Australians could give us some clues.   This episode may contain traces of Emre, asking science communicator and Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye a question about time travel.
3/29/201734 minutes, 22 seconds
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SoT 257: A Duck's Bum

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday 00:00:52 Researchers have trained bees to play soccer! Well, move a tiny ball into a hole, which is a bit like human soccer only faster and more entertaining. 00:06:15 NASA Astrobiology Institute director Penelope Boston has announced that NASA has found life - in liquid, in crystals, in a cave on Earth. But some of these microbes have been dormant for tens of thousands of years, and Dr. Boston claims to have awoken some of them! 00:17:24 Facial recognition technology has come a long way - and now researchers are using it to track and identify lemurs in the wild!
3/14/201726 minutes, 4 seconds
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SoT 256: Live at Surfcoast Skepticamp 2017

Hosts: Ed Brown, Lucas Randall and Jo Benhamu. 00:00:51 NASA has announced the discovery of seven planets outside our solar system that all orbit the same star and are about Earth-size. Three of them are firmly located in the habitable zone, and therefore likely to have liquid water. 00:13:15 Last year Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the world's richest doctor, launched "Cancer MoonShot 2020", a coalition of drug and biotech companies working on cancer treatments and personalized medicine. A year later, with little credible evidence behind it, the initiative has been described as little more than "an elaborate marketing tool". 00:28:11 For the first time, astronomers have have observed the immediate aftermath of a supernova, detecting it just three hours after it exploded. 00:33:55 The first comprehensive assessment of Europe's crickets and grasshoppers has found that more than a quarter of species are being driven to extinction.   This episode contains traces of NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen discussing the philosophical impact of the exoplanet discovery.
3/6/201749 minutes, 12 seconds
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SoT 255: Smelly Twins

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:01:17 Have scientists really discovered a new continent under New Zealand? Well, sort of! 00:07:24 Bad body odour could be treated by a bacteria transplant from someone with less offensive armpits! 00:12:07 The malaria parasite could be making your blood attractive to mosquitoes. 00:15:11 By combining multiple datasets, astronomers have developed a more accurate idea about how fast our sun orbits the centre of our galaxy. It's pretty fast. 00:22:21 Many animals use echolocation to navigate, but the Vietnamese pygmy dormouse could be the first tree-climbing mammal that does.   This episode contains traces of TVNZ's news report about the continent Zealandia.  
2/28/201726 minutes, 44 seconds
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SoT 254: Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:01:06 New research has uncovered how and why frog tongues have developed to be extremely soft and super-sticky. 00:10:57 By studying the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, researchers have found more evidence of a hypothetical category of black holes. Smaller than supermassive black holes, but more massive than stellar black holes, intermediate-mass black holes have a mass between 100 and 10,000 times the mass of our sun. 00:14:43 When a baby-food company asked child psychologist Caspar Addyman to develop a song to make babies laugh and be happy, he took a scientific approach. Most music made for babies, he says, "sounds frankly deranged". 00:35:37 The Gaia spacecraft has found a 'bridge of stars' between the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. The stream of stars connects the two dwarf galaxies and is over 43,000 light years long.   This episode contains traces of Professor Hans Rosling talking about world population growth. The Swedish academic and statistician died on 7 February 2017 of pancreatic cancer.
2/21/201738 minutes, 48 seconds
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SoT Special 20 - Robin Ince

Robin Ince is a celebrated writer and comedian best known for co-hosting The Infinite Monkey Cage, alongside Professor Brian Cox. And he's touring Australia - with a number of fantastic UK scientists and comedians - in March and April 2017. Cosmic Shambles LIVE is a variety show that celebrates curiosity and reason, an explosion of science, comedy, music and general wonder, with a great sense of fun. Part proceeds from the show will be going to charities like Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). Cosmic Shambles LIVE will be showing in: Sydney: Tuesday 28th March 2017, 7:00pm Enmore Theatre 118-132 Enmore Road, Newtown Melbourne: Saturday 1st April, 7:00pm Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre 1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf Perth: Thursday 13th April 2017, 7:00pm Octagon Theatre, The University of Western Australia 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley Head to to book your tickets now!
2/17/201747 minutes, 23 seconds
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SoT 253: The A Team

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:00:45 Help support the show! 00:01:58 Another theory for Tabby's Star - still not aliens. 00:15:47 The bacteria in babies' guts may end up the same no matter how they were delivered. 00:21:21 Could a brief spike of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere 2.3 billion years ago have been a "false start" for complex life? 00:26:47 DNA is usually made up of G, A, T and C. But scientists in the US have modified bacteria to use two new molecules - X and Y!   This episode contains traces of Colin Jost announcing the results of a study into sleeping patterns, on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, February 04 2017.
2/12/201736 minutes, 37 seconds
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SoT 252: Our Favourite Science Stories of 2016

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall, Jo Benhamu 00:02:28 Explainer: gravitational waves and why their discovery is such a big deal 00:07:42 One Year Ago Today, Pluto Became a World. 00:12:19 The Most Mysterious Star in the Galaxy 00:18:01 One drug is 'new hope' for three killer infections 00:21:37 FDA bans antibacterial soaps containing triclosan 00:25:48 Using a Dyson hand dryer is like setting off a viral bomb in a bathroom 00:32:42 A Blood Test To Determine When Antibiotics Are Warranted 00:37:13 Clones no more as a secret population of Tasmanian devils discovered 00:39:58 Tasmanian devils are evolving rapidly to fight their deadly cancer   Jo Benhamu is a clinical trials coordinator in radiation oncology.
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SoT 251: The Stellarator At Wolfenstein

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:00:58 By looking at astronomical records from 720 BC to AD 2015, researchers have found a small inaccuracy in modern calculations of the Earth's rotational speed. The Earth's spin is slowing down slightly slower than we thought. 00:11:44 A small section of a dinosaur's tail has been found in a piece of amber for sale in a market in Myanmar. The tail is amazingly well preserved - and feathered! 00:17:31 Nuclear fusion - as opposed to our current nuclear reactors, which use nuclear fission - is the 'holy grail' of physics research. It could provide near limitless energy, without toxic by-products. Now the Wendelstein 7-X project in Germany appears to be making progress, successfully trapping plasma in a magnetic cage. 00:29:39 A small study at Johns Hopkins University could give cancer patients suffering from depression and anxiety some hope. It suggests that just a single dose of magic mushrooms can improve their mental health for months.   This episode contains traces of the Today Show talking about a Christmas tree.
12/21/201641 minutes, 4 seconds
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SoT 250: Pet Platypuses

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday 00:00:50 For a long time, vision problems have been a known side-effect of spending a long time in space. We are now a big step closer to understanding why, thanks to some MRI scans done before and after trips to the International Space Station. 00:08:15 The male of the duck-billed platypus has a venomous spurr on its leg. But that venom contains a hormone that could be useful for treating diabetes. 00:13:42 A new study by researchers at Caltech suggests that we could be looking for the cause of Parkinson's Disease in the wrong place. Instead of being a brain issue, it could be related to gut irritation.   This episode contains traces of Wil Anderson talking with journalist Mark Colvin.
12/15/201620 minutes, 39 seconds
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SoT 249: Snail Tinder

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall 00:00:51 Scientists have drilled into the impact site of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. The core samples have revealed the impact caused a temporary mountain range the size of the Himalayas. 00:11:16 At a time when the coconut market is booming, the world's coconut trees could be facing extinction. And saving them presents a number of difficult challenges. 00:14:58 Researchers using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have determined that frozen beneath a particular region of Mars's surface lies about as much water as what's in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes in North America. 00:19:56 Most snail shells coil on the right-hand side of the snail. But Jeremy the Snail is 1 in 100,000 - his shell coils to the left. For snails, it's hard to find love when you're a lefty.   This episode contains archive material of astronaut John Glenn's historic first orbit around the Earth.
12/11/201625 minutes, 29 seconds
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SoT 248: Through The Melon

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall 00:01:03 Narwhals are whales with two teeth, and on the males one of those teeth is a really long tusk. A new study looks at how they use high-resolution echolocation to navigate under sea ice in the Arctic. 00:05:25 A new paper points out a potential new reservoir for finding antibiotics - the human gut. 00:11:59 Using data from the New Horizons probe, scientists have determined there is likely to be a large ocean deep below the heart shape on Pluto.   This episode contains traces of Stephen Hawking cautioning against being sedentary.
12/5/201624 minutes, 21 seconds
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SoT 247: Yeast-Growing Robots

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:01:28 An extensive series of experiments over 17 years has led to the development of a new genetic map of yeast. Essentially, it's a reference guide for how to chart genetic interactions within a cell. 00:07:33 A new study of the Hubble Space Telescope observations has increased the estimated number of galaxies in the universe. The new count stands at two trillion - almost ten times the previous estimate of 120 billion! 00:15:02 NASA has announced that the successor to the Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope, has been built. This marks the beginning of two years of intense stressing and testing, before launch in October 2018. 00:18:32 A new study suggests that Britain's Beagle 2 Mars lander may have landed successfully, but a subsequent failure made it unable to communicate with Earth. 00:19:41 A team at University of California, San Diego say they've discovered a previously unknown way that bacteria causes acne. They have shown that fatty acids produced by the bacteria inflame the skin cells. 00:23:12 Last week's 'supermoon' received a lot of excited press coverage around the world. Lucas thinks it may have been a bit overhyped.   This episode may contain traces of Senator Bernie Sanders talking Trump and climate change on The View, 14 November 2016.
11/22/201633 minutes, 13 seconds
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SoT 246: Nobel Prizes 2016

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph and Lucas Randall. 00:01:12 The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi "for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy". 00:06:43 The Nobel Prize in Physics was divided, one half awarded to David J. Thouless, the other half jointly to F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz "for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter". 00:11:06 The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines".   This episode may contain traces of Nobel Committee member Thor Hans Hansson explaining topology with his lunch.
10/20/201616 minutes, 48 seconds
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SoT 245: The 2016 Ig Nobel Prizes

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, and Lucas Randall. The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make us laugh, then make us think. We take a look at this year’s winners: from rats in pants to collecting flies! You can watch the award ceremony here.   00:01:28 REPRODUCTION PRIZE was posthumously awarded to Ahmed Shafik, from Egypt, "for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males". 00:10:18 ECONOMICS PRIZE went to two researchers from New Zealand and one from the UK "for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective". 00:19:27 PHYSICS PRIZE was presented to scientists from Hungary, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland "for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses, and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones". 00:28:19 CHEMISTRY PRIZE was given to Volkswagen, "for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested". 00:31:54 PEACE PRIZE was given to a team from Canada and the USA "for their scholarly study called 'On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit'". 00:38:25 MEDICINE PRIZE — five German scientists "for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa)". 00:42:37 PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE went to scientists from Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Canada, and the USA "for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers". 00:44:36 BIOLOGY PRIZE was awarded jointly to: Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats. 00:51:42 LITERATURE PRIZE went to Fredrik Sjöberg, from Sweden, "for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead". 00:54:30 PERCEPTION PRIZE was picked up by Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.
10/15/20161 hour, 6 minutes, 36 seconds
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SoT 244: Exit The Area

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Jo Benhamu. 00:01:00 The rattle of the rattlesnake's tail has long been something of a mystery for evolutionary biologists, because there's no 'half-shake'. Well a study by David Pfennig at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may suggest they started off shaking their silent tails, but over time developed a rattle as a signal to predators. 00:06:54 The long awaited results of a 10 year prostate cancer trial were published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study looked at 1,643 men diagnosed with early prostate cancer, and found that those who actively monitored their cancer instead of immediately starting treatment had the same minuscule risk of death as men who had either radiation therapy or surgery straight away. 00:21:05 Shu Lam, a 24 year old PhD student at Melbourne University has developed a star-shaped protein that can rip apart the walls of antibiotic-resistant bacteria – and kill them.   Jo Benhamu is a clinical trials coordinator in radiation oncology.   This episode may contain traces of Blue Origin's successful test of a crew escape module.
10/9/201630 minutes, 19 seconds
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SoT 243: What's Wrong With You, Humans?

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:00:52 A new study has found that as well as affecting the tides, the gravitational pull from the moon and the sun can affect Earthquakes. 00:06:47 A genetic study of giraffes has found that there isn't just one species, as previously thought. In fact there are four distinct species, some as different as polar bears are to brown bears. 00:15:40 A video showing the evolution of bacteria to resist antibiotics has gone viral, because it is such a clear demonstration. It is unlikely to change the minds of evolution deniers, though. 00:20:54 The Gaia space telescope has released the first catalogue of more than a billion stars. This is the largest all-sky survey of celestial objects to date. 00:33:34 Long-term studies of Ebola survivors have revealed that the virus lasts a lot longer in victims' bodies than previously suspected. And in some people, it can last for up to 18 months after all symptoms have cleared.   This episode may contain traces of Stephen Colbert talking about Giraffes.
10/3/201641 minutes, 43 seconds
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SoT 242: Making of a Murdered Fossil

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. 00:00:37 The FDA has decreed that triclosan and triclocarban must be removed from all antibacterial soap products by late 2017. This is not because they're dangerous, but because they're ineffective. 00:07:38 The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has launched "perfectly". If successful, this ambitious mission will be the first time NASA has retrieved samples of an asteroid. 00:23:37 A new study of Lucy - the bones of a human ancestor from 3.2 million years ago - suggests she may have died from falling from a tree. 00:30:22 The Juno probe in orbit around Jupiter has taken some extraordinary photographs - the first ever photos of Jupiter's polar regions.   This episode may contain traces of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson describing a Tim Tam Slam.
9/22/201638 minutes, 13 seconds
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SoT 241: OMG They've Got Radio!

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall.   00:00:51 A genetic analysis of the leather coat and fur hat worn by Otzi the iceman has not only revealed what animals he was wearing, but also why. 00:07:07 Zebra finch mothers sing weather reports to their eggs, and the embryos alter the speed of their development accordingly. 00:12:16 Tasmanian devils, nearly wiped out by a devastating facial tumour disease, may be showing signs of resistance to the cancer. This could have a dramatic impact on conservation efforts. 00:20:07 Traces of supernova ash has been discovered in fossils created by bacteria on Earth, which could explain an extinction event 2 million years ago. 00:23:04 Russian scientists have detected an unusually strong spike in radio signals from the vicinity of a nearby star. The internet says it's aliens. Actual scientists say it probably isn't. 00:30:46 The "EM Drive" - a space drive that appears to break the laws of physics - has "passed peer review". But what does that actually mean, and does it mean the drive could be the engine of future spacecraft? Answers: Not much, probably not.   This episode contains traces of SETI astronomer Jill Tarter on Science channel's "Through the Wormhole", describing the first small steps in the search for alien intelligence.  
9/15/201641 minutes, 22 seconds
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SoT 240: Fat Kids On A Seesaw

00:00:38 A planet-that-in-some-respects-probably-resembles-Earth-a-little-bit has been found orbiting the closest star outside our solar system, Proxima Centauri. Astronomer and astrobiologist Dr. Jonti Horner gives us the details about our nearest distant neighbour, Proxima Centauri b. 00:45:33 Thanks to continental drift, Australia's moving Northward by 7cm every year. As a result, it's now more than a meter from where the maps say it is. And when your self-driving car relies on GPS, that could be a big problem.   Dr. Jonti Horner is an astronomer and astrobiologist based at the University of Southern Queensland. On Saturday, 24 September 2016 he will be giving a talk, "Exoplanets & Life Elsewhere", at the Melbourne Planetarium.   This episode may contain traces of Shepard Smith announcing the discovery of Proxima Centauri b.
9/7/201656 minutes, 7 seconds
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SoT 239: The Supervolcano Hissy Fit

00:00:42 106 Million years ago, supervolcanoes in Australia hurled rocks more than 2,250km away. Such eruptions would have been among the biggest ever on Earth. 00:03:47 These volcanoes are part of a previously unknown trail created by a hotspot underneath Australia, which formed new volcanoes as the continent moved over it. 00:10:49 The long-standing view that life first began in "primordial soup" that was struck by lightening may be about to be overturned. The theory that the first living cells were born deep in the ocean in warm, hydrothermal vents is now gaining traction. 00:18:17 The Europa Clipper is NASA's ambitious mission to send a probe to Jupiter's sixth-closest moon, Europa. Europa is one of the best candidates for life in the solar system, but the mission is now facing serious possible budget cuts.    This episode may contain traces of veteran newsreader Lee Lin Chin opining on the lack of Facebook love for Australia's premier scientific organisation, the CSIRO.
8/28/201629 minutes, 55 seconds
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SoT 238: It Certainly Does Suck

00:00:50 Olympic athletes are using suction cups to suck their skin up into a cup. But is there any science to cupping? (Spoiler: not much, but some. Well, sort of.) 00:10:30 Promising animal trials suggest Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness could all be treated and possibly even cured, with one relatively safe drug. 00:13:53 An international team of scientists have discovered that the liquid found in the brood sacks of a particular type of cockroach is a highly nutritious source of protein. One day we might be feeding our babies cockroach milk! 00:18:26 Headlice are becoming resistant to the common insecticides we usually use. But a simple, 3,000 year old treatment could be the solution.   This episode may contain traces of Peter Alexander talking about cupping on NBC News.
8/22/201624 minutes
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SoT 237: Texas Echelon Cross Echelle Spectrograph

00:00:53 Jupiter's moon Io, the fourth largest moon in the solar system, has a volcanic atmosphere that collapses every day. 00:09:07 A survey of fifty houses in North Carolina as found a correlation between household income and biodiversity. The wealthier the household, the greater the variety of insects found inside. 00:13:46 Data from the Dawn spacecraft reveals that Ceres, the largest asteroid in the main asteroid belt, is not the dead lump of rock we thought it would be. In fact, it may have a still warm radioactive interior.   This episode may contain traces of newly elected Australian Senator Malcolm Roberts and his thoughts on carbon dioxide.
8/13/201619 minutes, 42 seconds
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SoT 236: Set Phasers To Stun

00:00:49 One of the bigger mysteries about the surface of Mars concerns the formation of some of the gullies. They look very similar to gullies created by flowing water on Earth, only they don't seem to be caused by water at all. 00:10:48 Modern chemotherapy drugs are improving all the time, but they still have really nasty side-effects. But a study published this week shows some promise of being able to deliver the drugs directly into a tumour, thanks to some genetically modified salmonella bacteria. 00:17:01 At first glance, it seems obvious that turtles have evolved their shells as a form of protection. But a new paper published in Current Biology suggests it initially evolved to help turtle ancestors burrow.   This episode may contain traces of Professor Brian Cox.
8/9/201624 minutes, 46 seconds
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SoT 235: It's Not Nibiru!

00:02:35 It's been a year since New Horizons flew past Pluto, and now all the data is in. We take a look at some of the big things we've leared about Pluto and its moons. 00:19:57 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that the bacteria that causes gonorrhea may be developing resistance to the only two antibiotics left that can cure it. 00:25:12 While all the major planets in the solar system orbit the sun in a fairly tight plane, that orbital plane isn't aligned with the Sun's equator. Which means either the sun has been tilted, or something has influenced the orbits of all the planets. Two independent scientific papers published last week point to the second option - and Planet Nine could be the culprit.   This episode contains traces of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton discussing climate change.
8/2/201636 minutes, 28 seconds
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SoT 234: Rock Lobster

00:00:39 A decade ago, the Great Southern Reef stretched for 8,000km off the coast of Western Australia. Now, a long-term study shows how decades of ocean warming combined with a marine heatwave has devastated the kelp forest. We caught up with Dr Scott Bennett from the Spanish National Research Council, one of the primary investigators on the study. 00:20:04 A new study has found that capuchin monkeys in Brazil have been using stones as tools to prepare their cashew feasts for more than 700 years. 00:24:49 Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have made a major discovery that could determine whether a patient has a bacterial infection or a viral infection by through a simple blood test. 00:31:26 The European Space Agency has announced an ambitious plan to catch a derelict satellite in a net, and burn it up in Earth's atmosphere.   Dr. Scott Bennett is a Marie Curie Fellow at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and Research Associate in Marine Ecology at Curtin University.   This episode contains traces of Paul Barry on Media Watch investigating The Australian’s Great Barrier Reef coverage.  
7/27/201641 minutes, 4 seconds
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SoT 233: Growth Mindset

00:01:29 713 Trillion gallons of water found deep underneath California. But we can't touch it... yet. 00:09:48 A pair of wings found encased in 99 million year old amber suggest that the plumage of modern birds has remained almost unchanged from some of their dinosaur-era ancestors. 00:13:58 Thirty eight rare hazel dormice have been released into the Yorkshire Dales National Park in England in a conservation effort. But the declining dormouse population raises other issues about how changing land use is affecting the wildlife. 00:18:45 A three-year study of a reef in the Florida Keys has shed light on how microbes are crucial to keeping coral reefs healthy Overfishing, pollution and climate change can destabilise the coral's natural defence and disrupt ecological communities.   This episode may contain traces of Rick Nybakken, Project Manager for the Juno mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  
7/14/201625 minutes, 36 seconds
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SoT 232: Peanut Butter Makes Everything Better

00:00:55 Fish that spend part of the time on land - such as mudskippers, American eels, and sea scorpions - may have evolved that ability separately more than 30 times! 00:07:08 Tabby's Star, also known as Where's The Flux, has been described as "the most mysterious star in the universe". It's the star with the strange dimming patterns that caused some speculation that it might be an alien megastructure. Well it almost certainly isn't an alien megastructure, but the story behind its discovery and the plans to study it closer are just as cool! 00:18:00 A new study finds links between low-fibre diets and peanut allergies.   This episode may contain traces of Tabetha Boyajian's TED Talk, The most mysterious star in the universe.  
7/7/201629 minutes, 51 seconds
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SoT 231: Smoking Pigs

00:01:05 For the second time, physicists have detected gravitational waves, proving that gravitational wave detection is a viable new form of astronomy. It also opens the way for theories about space-time having a memory, and possible explanations for dark matter. 00:30:38 A long awaited WHO report says that not only is coffee not carcinogenic, but it may even prevent some cancers. It's not so good news, however, if you like your coffee hot. 00:42:58 NASA's Juno spacecraft is set to enter orbit around Jupiter on July 4th, and NASA has released a Hollywood-style trailer for it.   Dr. Katie Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Melbourne. She is a co-host of Pint in the Sky, a vodcast about astrophysics and beer. She also writes on her blog and tweets at @AstroKatie.  
6/26/201646 minutes, 55 seconds
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SoT 230: Meat Ants

00:00:52 Michelle Franklin joins us to discuss invasive species control - from giving herpes to carp, to the moth that nearly wiped out the prickly pear. 00:16:57 Scientists have trained archerfish to recognise - and spit at - specific human faces. 00:22:46 A woman in Pennsylvania recently tested positive to an E. coli "superbug" that's resistant to most antibiotics. That's scary enough, but it also points to a worrisome lack of testing and reporting with urinary tract infections.   Michelle Franklin is a wildlife biologist and a founder of the Darwin Skeptics. Phil Kent is an aquaculture specialist and secretary of the Brisbane Skeptics. Brisbane Skeptics have a Skepticamp coming up. Phil can be found on Facebook, Twitter and at the Brisbane Skeptics' Facebook page.   This episode contains traces of Stephen Colbert talking about a new study of frog sex positions.  
6/18/201638 minutes, 47 seconds
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SoT 229: Lower Ranked Rats

00:01:03 Researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University have described the development of a potential universal cancer vaccine. But it's still very early days. 00:10:57 Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have found a giant sponge - the largest on record and one of the oldest living creatures in the world. 00:14:43 A large rat study shows that exposing rats to large doses of mobile phone radiation over two years can cause a higher rate of some cancers. But it's a long way away from showing any clear link in humans. 00:35:37 Australia's Olympic athletes will be protected from sexual transmission of the Zika virus by specially developed anti-Zika condoms. Also, all condoms protect against the sexual spread of Zika virus. Because that's what condoms do.   This episode contains traces of Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Maher. Jo Benhamu is a clinical trials coordinator in radiation oncology.
6/13/201645 minutes, 23 seconds
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SoT 228: That's So Birch

Researchers have just published a study that for the first time shows physical changes in trees that in some ways correspond to day-night cycles. Newly discovered evidence of a previously unknown population of Tasmanian devils could provide the genetic diversity that may be crucial to saving the devils from a deadly facial cancer. Dating a rock formation deep in a cave in France reveals Neanderthals were much more advanced than previously thought. Two Armenian physicists have published a study looking at a possible link between dark energy and the direction of time. Dark energy could, they suggest, be the reason why time goes forwards but cannot go backwards. The Arrow of Time - Wonders of the Universe Psychiatric hospitals filling up with time travellers sent back to kill Donald Trump Listener Chris sent us some interesting information as a follow up to our story about Mt. St Helens.   This episode contains traces of Professor Brian Cox talking about the eventual end of the universe.
6/8/201641 minutes, 6 seconds
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SoT 227: Aha! There's A Thing!

A Canadian teenager may have found a lost Mayan city. Or, it might just be a marijuana plantation. Either way, he deserves credit for coming up with a hypothesis and testing it - with help from the Canadian Space Agency! There's a parasite that's turning Alaskan king crabs into zombies. The parasite castrates the males, takes over their bodies and makes them raise its offspring. But the good news is the crab's legs are still edible! A new study finds a link between folate and autism. But it's not so simple - and there's no reason pregnant women should stop taking folate supplements if their doctor advises. We respond to some feedback from Michelle Franklin about biological controls in Australia. Not all attempts to control pests with other organisms have been failures, some have been quite successful.   This episode contains traces of Paul Barry on Media Watch.
6/1/201635 minutes, 2 seconds
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SoT 226: Seismic Swarms

A further 1,284 more exoplanets have been confirmed by NASA's Kepler mission. This puts the total number confirmed planets outside our solar system to 3,268! Does the increase in small earthquakes below Mount St. Helens signify an imminent eruption? Not quite, but that hasn't stopped the media from panicking. For a long time, climate change scientists have been warning that as sea levels rise, some countries could be lost underwater. This week, new research shows that at least five reef islands in the Solomon Islands have been lost completely to sea-level rise. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a boat sitting above the Marianas Trench, and it's live-streaming video from a remotely operated vehicle. One of the many amazing finds they've looked at is a beautiful jellyfish with brightly coloured gonads!   This episode contains traces of John Oliver ranting about bad media reporting of science.
5/23/201626 minutes, 55 seconds
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SoT 225: Memoirs Of A Janitor

Chiropractors in Australia are coming under fire after a shocking video of manipulation of a baby goes viral. Dr. Mick Vagg gives us an in-depth look at the controversial industry. You can watch parts of the video here. Scientists are about to unleash "Carpageddon" - a radical form of biological control that aims to eradicate carp from an Australian river system. Watch out carp, herpes is coming! Mysterious gullies on Mars may be formed by water 'boiling'. Water in low pressure, such as at the surface of Mars, has been found to boil rapidly and 'pop' the surrounding sand. The Large Hadron Collider came to an abrupt halt recently. Not because of a fault, as such, but because a weasel got in and started chewing on things it shouldn't have! Dr. Mick Vagg is a pain specialist, and author of the Medicandus column on The Conversation.   This episode contains traces of radio broadcaster Jon Faine interviewing Deputy President of the Chiropractors' Association of Australia (CAA), Andrew Lawrence.
5/14/201640 minutes, 20 seconds
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Sot 224: Useless Babies

SpaceX plans to send uncrewed Dragon capsules to Mars... as early as 2018. And they might even be able to do it! Study of a rare fossil of a baby titanosaur shows that some dinosaurs were left to fend for themselves immediately after hatching. The bittersweet nightshade plant has an ancient defense mechanism - it recruits armies of ants to ward off slugs and predators. Astronomers have discovered that Makemake, the second brightest dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, has a moon. Surprisingly, it's much darker than Makemake - and about 1,300 times fainter.   This episode contains traces of ABC News' in-depth coverage of the SpaceX announcement.
5/7/201636 minutes, 51 seconds
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SoT 223: Terminal Buzz

A new study looks at the vocal talents of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, and reveals what we already knew: he had an extraordinary voice! A study of bats shows that when hunting insects, they don't plan one kill at a time. Instead they choose flight paths that take them to two victims in quick succession. A study looking at high powered hand dryers - in particular the Dyson Airblades - has found they can spread a lot of virus particles. But that's only a problem if you don't wash your hands properly. And you probably don't.   Peter Miller is a professional sound designer and music composer who has worked in the film & music business for nearly 40 years. He writes at Hummadruz about various audio phenomena and pseudo-science. This episode contains traces of Stephen Colbert and Dr. Manny Alvarez describing correct hand-washing technique.
4/30/201629 minutes, 7 seconds
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SoT 222: Zombie Penguin!

Penguins need to be counted, and scientists need your help counting them! PenguinWatch blends citizen science with cute penguins! Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner team up again to fund an extremely ambitious $100m research program to send probes to Alpha Centauri. A new chemical test could reveal whether fossilised bones were from pregnant – and therefore female – dinosaurs.   This episode contains traces of Stephen Hawking announcing the "Starshot" Breakthrough Initiative.
4/25/201624 minutes, 13 seconds
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SoT 221: A Brick On A Sparrow

Scientists at the University of New South Wales could soon be able to regrow homan bone and tissue in the body, with stem cells. In the quest for better data to protect endangered vultures, conservationists are turning to 3D printing eggs. Korean researchers have discovered that Skuas - mid-sized Antarctic seabirds - can recognise individual humans. Hope is running out for the troubled Japanese space telescope, Hitomi.
4/18/201616 minutes, 40 seconds
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SoT 220: Paleo That!

Dr. Brad McKay tells us about his time as a host on a medical reality TV show. Most Australian doctors agree that nobody has contracted Lyme Disease from a tick in Australia, but many victims feel they have. Dr. McKay weighs in on the science behind Lyme Disease. The anus was a pretty important evolutionary step that meant animals no longer had to poop out their mouths. But recent videos of gelatinous sea creatures called comb jellies shed new light on the evolution of the so-called through-gut. A newly discovered Kuiper Belt Object adds more evidence to the "Planet Nine" theory of a distant ninth planet in our solar system. Amateur astronomers have captured video of a probable asteroid crashing into Jupiter. Japan's newly launched US$270 million x-ray space telescope appears to be out of control. However, some signals have been received giving officials hope that it may yet be saved. The discovery of a fossil skull in Kazakhstan suggest that the 'Siberian unicorn" - more of a rhinoceros, really - may have gone extinct only 29,000 years ago. Previous estimates were that it died out 350,000 years ago.   Dr Brad McKay is a General Practitioner and TV Presenter. You can follow him on Twitter here or contact him via his website.   This episode may contain traces of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
4/11/201656 minutes, 58 seconds
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SoT 219: Mother's Guilt

PET is the most common kind of plastic, and most of it ends up in landfills and waterways. But now a team of Japanese researchers have discovered a plastic-eating bacterium that could be the key to a new approach to recycling and waste disposal. A newly discovered horse-sized dinosaur reveals how Tyrannosaurus Rex and its close relatives evolved into the top predators of their time. New research in mice has found that the food parents eat before their kids are born can affect their children's health later in life. A study of a supermassive black hole has revealed some incredible numbers. Not only is it 18 billion times the mass of our sun, but it rotates at about one-third the speed of light. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have identified nine giant stars with masses over 100 times the mass of the sun in a star cluster in the Tarantula Nebula. This makes it the largest sample of very massive stars identified to date.   This episode may contain traces of Neil deGrasse Tyson on The Late Show With Jon Stewart.
3/28/201633 minutes, 10 seconds
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SoT 218: It Rips Its Face Off

The American Statistical Association has issued a warning over the misuse of P values. The group says P values cannot determine whether a hypothesis or true of if results are important. In April scientists will begin drilling into the Chicxulub crater, site of the meteorite impact that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. They hope to examine how life rebounded after the mass extinction and to learn more about the formation of 'peak ring craters'. The tiny jellyfish-like Hydra have no mouth, instead they rip their whole face open whenever they eat. And now a team from the University of California, San Diego, have worked out how. Now they just want to know the why.   Dr. Cassandra Perryman is a psychologist at University of Queensland, and you can follow her on Facebook here. This episode may contain traces of Professor Tamara Davis on ABC Q&A.
3/20/201628 minutes, 40 seconds
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SoT 217: The Telescope That John West Rejected

Some giant viruses, called mimiviruses, have immune systems that fight intruders in a manner similar to the CRISPR mechanism that microbiologists use to edit genomes. NASA has announced the development of a next generation space telescope. Using donated mirrors, the WFIRST telescope will have the same resolution as the Hubble Space Telescope, but a hundred times greater field of view. Recent headlines have suggested that eating chocolate will improve brain function, but the actual study they're based on had very different conclusions. New images sent back from the New Horizons probe after its flyby of Pluto show possible clouds in the dwarf planet's atmosphere.  
3/13/201641 minutes, 29 seconds
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SoT 216: Wobble When They Waddle

A team of astronomers have traced the origins of a Fast Radio Burst - a sudden, high energy blast or radio waves - to a galaxy 6 billion light years away. This has helped them find 'regular' matter (not dark matter or dark energy) that was previously missing. An experiment in Antarctica set out to see how a penguin's walk - or waddle - changes with variations in body mass. To do this it was necessary to put the penguins on treadmills. For science! A new study has found that Lyme Disease can be caused, rarely, by a different bacterial species to the one that usually gets all the blame. And this new species could cause more serious symptoms, from vomiting to neurological issues. Some bacteria have a mechanism for releasing extra long spears to puncture cellular membranes and release molecules on demand. They get eaten by other bacteria, then puncture the cell wall and release poison. Now a team at the Wyss Institute have developed a technique to activate these spears, and could one day use them to deliver drugs and beneficial molecules.
3/6/201635 minutes, 19 seconds
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SoT 215: Yellow Big Head

A brain parasite may make chimpanzees less cautious and fearful of leopards. Maybe. For over 60 years, fruit flies have been trapped in the dark in one of the longest ongoing scientific experiments. 1,500 generations later, some evolutionary effects are being revealed. A new technique of using modified cancer cells to fight cancer is showing some impressive results in mice, but it’s early days yet. The Australian town of Wangaratta is being swamped by tumbleweeds. And it’s all one person’s fault.
2/27/201631 minutes, 11 seconds
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SoT 214: Gravitational Waves

Astrophysicist Dr. Katie Mack joins us to explain "one of the most groundbreaking physics discoveries of the past 100 years" - the detection of gravitational waves. In September last year the aLIGO experiment detected the ripple in spacetime caused by the merger of two black holes. We talk with Dr. Mack about the implications this has for a new type of astronomy. Dr. Katie Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist at Melbourne University. Her work focuses on finding new ways to learn about the early universe and fundamental physics using astronomical observations, probing the building blocks of nature by examining the cosmos on the largest scales. Follow her on Twitter here.
2/23/201646 minutes, 38 seconds
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SoT 213: Everything Zika

Medical entomologist Dr. Cameron Webb joins the team to talk about the Zika virus and mosquitoes. Everything you need to know about the current outbreak - baggage Zika, insect repellents, mosquito eradication, sexual transmission, and the link between Zika and microencephaly.Also, beer could make you a target for mosquitoes. Possibly. Dr Cameron Webb is a Clinical Lecturer with the University of Sydney and Principal Hospital Scientist with the Department of Medical Entomology at Pathology West - ICPMR Westmead (NSW Health Pathology & Westmead Hospital).
2/13/201641 minutes, 1 second
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SoT 212: Plants Can Count

The seventh period on the periodic table is now complete, after four new elements have been officially verified. Elements with atomic numbers 113, 115, atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118 have been confirmed and will get permanent names soon. The irukandji jellyfish - actually a number of species of jellyfish - are the most venomous box jellyfish in the world. A leading researcher has now warned that the jellyfish, usually found in the warmer northern waters of Australia, are being found further and further south. He says that as climate change continues to warm the waters, they will become common place on southern Queensland beaches within a decade. Two leading astronomers have presented evidence that the solar system may have a ninth planet - and it's definitely not Pluto! Caltech astronomers Mike Brown and Konstatin Batygin believe the planet may be nearly as big as Neptune and never comes closer than 29 billion kilometers to the sun! We have a lot more respect for Venus flytraps now that we've learnt they can count! KIC 8462852, the strange star with bizarre random dips in brightness that some have suggested could be an alien megastructure just got a little weirder. The most likely explanation was a huge family of comets orbiting the star, but a new study of thousands of observations makes that less likely still.
2/8/201629 minutes, 49 seconds
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SoT Special 19 - Robin Ince

Robin Ince is a celebrated British comedian. He has built his career mixing science and comedy, on television, radio, podcasts and in his stand-up routines. He's perhaps most famous as a co-host with astrophysicist Brian Cox on BBC4's Infinite Monkey Cage radio show and podcast.Ed managed to sit down with Robin in April last year, to discuss all things comedy and science. From raising sceptical and scientifically literate children, to whether science can bring happiness!
1/26/201633 minutes, 29 seconds
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SoT Bloopers 2015

Just a note to let you know that our 2015 bloopers episode is now out! It's a lot of fun, so you should definitely listen! To do that you'll have to download it from or listen to it on our website, YouTube or Soundcloud.
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SoT 211: Our Favourite Science Stories of 2015

Our top stories of the year. Good science: Eighty children get chickenpox at Brunswick North West Primary, a school that calls for 'tolerance' of vaccine dodgers The Vaccine Lunacy - Disneyland, Measles and Madness NASA is now "pretty sure" those weird white patches on Ceres are salt Earth Stole Water and More from the Young Moon New Horizons: Pluto may have ice volcanoes Stem cell treatment halts MS progression in 91% of patients A Vomiting Machine Shows How Viruses Spread in Puke Children exposed to 4 key bacteria are less likely to develop asthma, study finds Viruses join fight against harmful bacteria Bad science: No woman 'totally straight', study says No need for men to get flush-faced about faeces in beards So processed meat has been classified as carcinogenic. Here’s what you need to know. Flawed study overstates link between fluoride and ill health: experts
12/24/201548 minutes, 28 seconds
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SoT 210: Tarantula Blue

Fast Radio Bursts are sudden, very short but very intense blasts of radio waves that have so far defied explanation. But now the most detailed study so far has provided some clues to the origins of FRBs - they MIGHT come from starquakes. Probably not aliens. While bees are certainly the most efficient pollinators, a new study suggests that other insects - like flies, wasps, beetles and butterflies - are just as important for the success of the world's crops. It's like having a backup plan for bees. There are around 900 species of tarantula, and most of them are the usual black or brown colour. But there's more than a few of them have vibrant blue colourings - and we don't really know why. An international team of scientists has found that the development of agriculture in Europe - around 8,500 years ago - signalled the start of some significant changes in the DNA of modern humans. There were changes in height, digestion, immune system and skin colour and a host of other evolutionary steps.
12/15/201532 minutes, 26 seconds
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SoT 209: Silly Season For Worms

Chinese scientists have found bacteria that are resistant to one the 'last resort' antibiotics. The gene for this resistance has been found in 15 percent of meat samples and can spread to other bacteria very easily. Biologists at Tufts University have induced flatworms to grow the heads and brains of other flatworm species, without altering the worm's genome. Researchers have sequenced the genome of the tardigrade, or 'water bear'. This tiny but nearly indestructible creature has the most foreign genes of any animal studied so far - roughly one sixth of it's genome comes from other species.
12/9/201522 minutes, 56 seconds
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SoT 208: Better Than Hookworm

For the first time, neurosurgeons at in Canada claim to have found a way to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to the brain, crossing the famed blood brain barrier. Women infected with hookworms seem to have decreased fertility, while women with roundworms seem to be more fertile. Because parasitic worms are weird. There's some growing evidence that suggest repeated vaccination against different flu strains might diminish the flu vaccine’s effectiveness. You should still get the shot, though. Compass is a clinical trial comparing 2.5 -yearly Pap test screening with 5- yearly Human Papillomavirus (HPV) screening. It is the first large scale clinical trial internationally to assess these screening tests in an HPV vaccinated population. 
12/2/201530 minutes, 25 seconds
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SoT 207: Plutology

A study of 345 women by The University of Essex concludes that no woman is"totally straight". Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. In Australia, forty volunteers are about to have hookworms injected into their bodies to see if a radical treatment can alleviate some of the symptoms of coeliac disease. Two possible ice volcanoes have been identified on the surface of Pluto thanks to New Horizons' study of the minor dwarf planet. Instead of molten rock, these volcanoes would eject slushies of water ice and nitrogen, ammonia or methane. Scientists may have solved a long-standing mystery about moon rocks, and why they have a lot less volatile elements like potassium, sodium, and zinc than rocks on the Earth. Dr. Cassandra Perryman is a psychologist at University of Queensland, and you can follow her on Facebook here.
11/24/201528 minutes, 38 seconds
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SoT 206: Jellies All Day Long

The first case of a human falling ill from cancer cells contracted from a parasitic tapeworm has been reported in Columbia. And in an unrelated story, a Californian man has had a live tapeworm removed from his brain in a potentially life-saving operation. The Rosetta probe orbiting 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has surprised everyone by detecting large amounts of molecular oxygen on the comet. The finding suggests molecular oxygen was present when the comet was formed soon after the birth of the solar system, 4.6 billion years ago. Stanford University researchers have discovered how jellyfish actually swim – and it's not how previously thought. They make a region of low pressure ahead of themselves, essentially sucking themselves forward. Lucas mentions Smarter Every Day's video of a balloon in a car.
11/17/201527 minutes, 11 seconds
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SoT 205: Excited About Herpes!

The World Health Organisation has officially classified processed meat as "carcinogenic", and red meat as "probably carcinogenic". However, this doesn't really tell you anything about the level of risk associated with meat. You're probably fine. Electric eels can deliver a strong shock, but they can deliver twice the shock by curling around and trapping their victim between head and tail. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved an impressive new kind of treatment to help combat skin cancer: herpes. That's right, herpes.  
11/14/201527 minutes, 31 seconds
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SoT 204: Let's Marvin Gaye and Get It On

Researchers have found neurons in nematode worms that help them learn when to prioritise mating over eating. This does not necessarily have anything to do with humans. A large team of scientists have published a paper about a strange star, KIC 8462852, which has an unusual pattern of dimming and brightening. One possible - though remote - explanation they have proposed is a Dyson's sphere. Thanks again to some zircon cyrstals, researchers may have found evidence of ancient microorganisms that lived at least 4.1 billion years ago. If confirmed, the discovery suggests that life originated on Earth 300 million years earlier than previously thought.
11/7/201524 minutes, 16 seconds
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SoT 203: Something In The Scuba Tank

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 was awarded jointly to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar "for mechanistic studies of DNA repair". The Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 was awarded jointly to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald "for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass". The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015 was awarded with one half jointly to William C. Campbell and Satoshi ?mura for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites and the other half to Youyou Tu for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria. Scientists diving near the Solomon Islands have discovered the first biofluorescent reptile ever recorded. Biological engineers at MIT have developed a new mix-and-match system to genetically engineer viruses that target specific bacteria. This use of bacteriophages could be an important weapon in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Advanced multi-layer CT scanning technology has enabled researchers to examine the remains of people found at Pompeii, and led to some surprising discoveries about their health and how they died. Strange bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres had mystified astronomers since they were first seen earlier this year. But new spectroscopy studies suggest they are probably salt deposits, not ice as previously speculated.   Note: We had lots of technical difficulties with this episode. Most of Mick's contributions needed to be re-recorded separately, and there was a slight hum at times. We've done the best we could, but the audio might be a little dodgy in parts. It's not particularly noticeable, and doesn't really affect the experience. Please forgive us!
11/1/201538 minutes, 31 seconds
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SoT 202: Argon-Argon

Dark streaks seen on the surface of Mars are likely to be periodic flows of liquid water – something previously though almost impossible. The tongues of the long-tongued bumblebees in Colorado are shorter than archived long-tongued bumblebees from forty years ago. This appears to be an adaptation to climate change and while it's good news for the bees, it could be bad news for the flowers they feed on. Four kinds of gut bacteria have been found to havea strong preventative link to asthma. But there's a catch - it's only significant in the first three months after birth. We're fairly certain that a massive asteroid collision with Earth wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But another theory suggests extensive volcanic action was already doing that, and maybe the asteroid just helped things along. Helen and Lucas have been to see the blockbuster film The Martian, and they liked it!
10/15/201544 minutes, 25 seconds
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SoT 201: The 2015 Ig Nobel Prizes

The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make us laugh, then make us think. We take a look at this year’s winners: from unboiled eggs to painful bee stings! You can watch the award ceremony here. The Chemistry prize was awarded to a team from Australia and the USA "for inventing a chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg". The Physics prize went to scientists from the USA and Taiwan "for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds)". The Literature prize was awarded to linguists from The Netherlands, USA, Belgium and Australia "for discovering that the word "[huh?" (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language — and for not being quite sure why". The Management prize was given to three business school professors, "for discovering that many business leaders developed in childhood a fondness for risk-taking, when they experienced natural disasters (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and wildfires) that — for them — had no dire personal consequences". The Economics prize went to the Bangkok Metropolitan Police, "for offering to pay policemen extra cash if the policemen refuse to take bribes". The Medicine prize was awarded jointly to two groups, "for experiments to study the biomedical benefits or biomedical consequences of intense kissing (and other intimate, interpersonal activities)". The Mathematics prize was given to Elisabeth Oberzaucher and Karl Grammer, "for trying to use mathematical techniques to determine whether and how Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty, the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, managed, during the years from 1697 through 1727, to father 888 children". The Biology prize was presented to scientists from Chile and the USA, "for observing that when you attach a weighted stick to the rear end of a chicken, the chicken then walks in a manner similar to that in which dinosaurs are thought to have walked". The Diagnostic Medicine prize went to researchers from the University of Oxford and Stoke Mandeville Hospital, "for determining that acute appendicitis can be accurately diagnosed by the amount of pain evident when the patient is driven over speed bumps". The Physiology and Entomology prize was jointly awarded to two individuals. Justin Schmidt got the gong "for painstakingly creating the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, which rates the relative pain people feel when stung by various insects". Michael L. Smith was granted the prize "for carefully arranging for honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different locations on his body, to learn which locations are the least painful (the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm) and which are the most painful (the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft)".
10/7/201556 minutes, 21 seconds
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SoT 200: Never Memorise A Formula

Neurologist and acclaimed author Dr. Oliver Sacks died after complications with cancer at age 82. He was an extraordinary man who humanised the sufferers of mental disorders and introduced the general public to the world of neuroscience. Read his books. We highly recommend them! Nobody is surprised, but we finally have good experimental data that shows a lack of sleep makes you more susceptible to illness. Less than 5 hours of sleep makes you four times more likely to get sick, and volunteers where locked in a hotel and given colds to prove it. Climate change will cause many problems, but a new study potentially adds one more to the list: changes to nitrogen fixating bacteria that could dramatically effect nearly all sea life. After its successful fly-by of Pluto, New Horizons has a new target: 2014 MU69. This 'cold classical' Kuiper belt object will be 43.4 AU from the sun when New Horizons arrives on January 1, 2019.
9/23/201530 minutes
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SoT 199: Look Into My Eyes

A new theory about our solar system's history proposes that there was a fifth giant planet early on that influenced Neptune's orbit and was flung out into interstellar space. Two independent teams have manipulated a piece of viral protein so it can teach immune systems to fight whole groups of viruses, rather than a single strain. This could be the first step towards a universal flu vaccine and could eventually eradicate influenza altogether. Over the last three years Professor Brian Nosek from the University of Virginia has managed to get a lot of psychologists from around the world to repeat 100 published psychology experiments. In a lot of cases, the new results were considerably different from the original experiment's results. A psychologist in Italy got study participants to stare into each other's eyes for ten minutes and describe what they felt. Weird things happened!
9/20/201534 minutes, 6 seconds
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SoT 198: A Lot of Modelling

Dr. Miranda Ween is investigating the potential health effects of e-cigarettes. Nasa has awarded a $200,000 per year grant to researchers to investigate ways to turn poop into food. Scientists at the American Fisheries Society annual meeting have called for changes to how decisions are made in fisheries. Unprecedented conditions like the North Pacific blob demonstrate a need for ecosystem-based modelling instead of the more common species-based modelling. Can smelling vomit make you sick? The answer is yes, but to prove it virologists had to build a machine that vomits.
9/14/201533 minutes, 28 seconds
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SoT 197: The Universe Is Not A Parrot

Dr. Krystal is now working at the BioMelbourne Network, the peak industry body for life sciences in Melbourne, Australia. In an important step forward for human space exploration, astronauts on the ISS have eaten lettuce grown on the station. They liked it. Despite having only a 36% success rate, the new malaria vaccine called 'Mosquirix' has been endorsed for young African children. The hope is that the vaccine, when combined with other existing defenses, can still greatly reduce the incidence of severe malaria. New research studying almost 20,000 galaxies in one small section of the sky shows the universe has long passed its peak and is slowly dying. Which is a gloomy way of saying that the rate of new stars being born is decreasing. We all know that no vaccine is ever truly 100% effective, yet that's exactly what early stages of a new Ebola vaccine seems to suggest. The humble octopus has an exceptionally complicated genome, which goes part way to explaining the complexity of these incredible sea creatures.
9/2/201555 minutes, 20 seconds
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SoT 196: The Creepy, Nasty Animal Show

In 2011 a tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri, killing 158 people. It also brought with it a rare flesh-eating fungus that killed another five. The first two species of 'venomous' frogs have been discovered - the hard way - in the Caatinga forests of Brazil. And you really don't want them to headbutt you. There's a parasitic wasp that uses mind control on spiders to force them to spin cocoons. Because nature is like that. We mention this David Attenborough video about the Cordyceps fungi that zombifies ants. We also mention spider webs produced by spiders on drugs. Shayne recommends the XKCD webcomic about the bee orchid. Ed recommends watching Ed Yong's TED talk about mind controlling parasites. Simon Chapman is Professor in Public Health at the University of Sydney, and was called upon to give evidence before the Select Committee on Wind Turbines. They asked his opinion, and he well and truly delivered it!
8/23/201534 minutes, 49 seconds
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SoT 195: Pluto - King of the Kuiper Belt

A special episode all about Pluto and the New Horizons mission. We're joined by Dr. Mike Goldsmith, a science writer with a PhD in astrophysics who's currently writing a book about Pluto. Keep an eye on Amazon for New Horizons To Pluto to be published in the next month or so. Further information: Mike's New Horizons To Pluto blog New Pluto Images Reveal a Planet That's Stunningly Alive New Horizons Close-Up of Charon’s ‘Mountain in a Moat’ Charon’s Surprising, Youthful and Varied Terrain Pluto's heart named 'Tombaugh Regio' in celebration of dwarf planet's discovery New Horizons Reveals Pluto’s Extended Atmosphere00:35:12 First maps of Charon and Pluto First maps of Charon and Pluto
8/9/201544 minutes, 43 seconds
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SoT 194: A Great Big Tool

One study suggests a dip in solar activity in 15 years. Mainstream media gets it so very wrong. The world's first malaria vaccine gets regulatory approval, but it's not the panacea you might think. Billionaire Yuri Milner funds US$100 million dollar search for extra terrestrial life. Which is awesome! A 14,000 year old tooth shows signs of early dentistry. Early PAINFUL dentistry. NASA announces thousands of newly discovered exoplanets, including one that might possibly be a bit like Earth only different.   Album art: David McClenaghan / CSIRO (CC BY 3.0)
8/4/201544 minutes, 26 seconds
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SoT 193: Bat Poo Is Like Gold

Researchers at the University of York and GlaxoSmithKline have figured out all the steps needed to genetically engineer yeast to essentially produce opiates like morphine. A pitcher plant in the jungles of Borneo - a flesh-eating plant that’s terrible at eating flesh - has through evolution developed a system of luring bats, and then feasting on their poop. A growing body of research suggests that males and females process pain differently. It also opens promising new fields of further study.
7/30/201540 minutes, 10 seconds
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SoT 192: Test By Shooting The Journalist

A single-celled organism has no brain and no nervous system, so you wouldn't think it could have an eye. But the dinoflagellate Erythropsidinium is able to "see" polarised light, and aim its piston accordingly. The iconic 3D holographic computer interfaces from the Iron Man movies and Minority Report might be not far off, as researchers in Japan have developed a way to suspend light in mid-air and make it safe to interact with. Approximately 2.1 billion years ago saw the emergence of multicellular organisms. New research suggests that the leap from single-celled life to multicellular creatures may have been fairly simple, and there may have been more than one way it happened. Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed a system for self-healing aeroplane wings. The material, which uses a liquid carbon-based "healing agent" could also be used for bicycle frames and wind turbines. A dramatic increase in raven population in the Mojave Desert is threatening a rare desert tortoise. Some conservationists have turned to technology to ward off the ravens - they're shooting them with lasers.
7/8/201540 minutes, 10 seconds
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SoT 191: A Matter of Voltage

More communication with the recently awoken Philae probe on Comet 67P. New techniques to treat depression, and Sean's fascinating story of being part of a clinical trial. Tech startup OneWeb has announced that Airbus will be manufacturing 900 communications satellites to launch in 2018 in what will be the largest satellite internet network by far. A new blood test can determine all the viruses that we know of that a patient has ever been exposed to. The holes in Swiss cheese – called 'eyes' – are made by “carbon-dioxide-burping microbes”.
6/28/20151 hour, 1 minute, 19 seconds
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SoT 190: Why The Long Face?

The New Horizons spacecraft is one month away from Pluto, but it's already giving us some fuzzy photos. And new findings from the Hubble telescope give some insights into the complex orbits and interactions of Pluto's moons. In the last month around 120,000 Saiga antelopes have died in Kazakhstan, and nobody knows why. Breaking news while we recorded this show - the Philae lander has awoken on Comet 67P after a seven month sleep. The first stage of The Planetary Society's LightSail project has been successfully completed. The small craft unfurled its large solar sail, which uses sunlight for propulsion.
6/18/201530 minutes, 1 second
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SoT 189: It Does Horrible Spider Things

The International Institute for Species Exploration has selected it's "Top 10 New Species" from the approximately 18,000 new species named during 2014. The list includes cartwheeling spiders, feathered dinosaurs and strange multicellular organisms that could be an entirely new phylum - a new branch on the tree of life. Two separate studies have explored how octopuses and squid change their skin colour to rapidly camouflage themselves. They found that the skin (on squid and cuttlefish) and tiny hairs called cilia (on octopuses) have cells that are used in vision. In 2013 some research suggested that the blood from young mice can rejuvenate older mice. Well new findings cast doubt on those results, and things are a little more complicated. British and US scientists have published the first comprehensive map of genetic mutations linked to different strains of prostate cancer. They describe the map as "prostate cancer’s Rosetta stone" and say it will guide future treatments and trials.
6/9/201536 minutes
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SoT 188: Somehow, Because Of Science

The Opah, or moonfish, is the only warm-blooded fish that we know of. And it looks like "a big startled frisbee, with thin red fins stuck on as an afterthought." A new epidemiological study suggests the measles vaccine does more than just protect you from measles, but also a number of other infections for up to five years. Scientists have discovered a new state of matter, called 'Jahn-Teller metals', that could be the first step towards one of the biggest goals in physics - high-temperature superconductors. A group of scientists investigating the evolution of the beak now report they have found a way to turn the beaks of chicken embryos back into dinosaur-like snouts. This year the Australian Skeptics' National Convention will be held in Brisbane, with a host of interesting speakers including Nobel prize winner Brian Schmidt.
6/3/201527 minutes, 37 seconds
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SoT 187: Not All Experts Agree

Dr. Alice Gorman is a Space Archaeologist. She explains what that means, and why cable ties can be more significant than you might think. NASA has ended the MESSENGER space probe's mission by crashing it into the planet Mercury. Initially only expected to orbit Mercury for one year, MESSENGER has provided a wealth of new information in it's four year study of the closest planet to the Sun. A team of Chinese scientists claim to have built a farm that maintains the high crop yields we expect from conventional farms while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. And they've done that largely by replacing traditional chemical fertilizers with cow manure. The United Nations has named 2015 the Year of the Soil, which is perhaps fitting given the growing amount of research looking at ways soil bacteria could help mitigate the effects of climate change. A small TV news segment from a local network in New Mexico sparked an international media frenzy when it claimed that some beards contain more faecal bacteria than a toilet. Unsurprisingly, there's more crap in those claims than there is in most beards.
5/25/201543 minutes, 21 seconds
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SoT 186: Kiwi Chicks

Audi claims to have produced clean, synthetic diesel fuel by using electrolysis to turn air and water into hydrocarbons. When using green electricity the process can be 100% renewable and the fuel works in existing diesel engines. An international project to sequence the complete genome of the woolly mammoth has been successfully completed. So once again the idea of 'de-extinction' - bringing the mammoth back - is a hot topic. For the first time, scientists have been able to monitor an underwater volcano eruption in real time, thanks to sensors placed around the Axial Seamount. Rotoroa is a tiny, 82-hectare island off the coast of New Zealand. And for the last few years, it's been the site of an extraordinary conservation experiment. This project isn't about recreating an ecosystem, rather it's creating a brand new one.
5/20/201535 minutes, 25 seconds
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SoT:185 An Ewok and a Mogwai

A controversial paper published by Chinese researchers in the online journal Protein & Cell marks the first time scientists have reported manipulating the genetic material of human embryos. A new study has looked at the role of the hormone oxytocin in the dog and owner relationship. And it involved dogs and owners staring longingly into each other's eyes. Chimpanzees in the wild have been observed crafting sharp spears to stab their prey. Hunting is rare among chimpanzees, but even more interesting in this case is it's the females that use the spears. Bacteria that normally live in the urinary tract and cause no harm have been implicated in a number of deaths in organ transplant patients. Seismologists at the University of Utah have found a huge reservoir of partially molten rock underneath the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano in North America. 25 Years ago the Hubble Space Telescope was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre. And despite a number of significant obstacles and challenges, it has become one of the most successful and iconic telescopes ever built.
5/13/201547 minutes, 23 seconds
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SoT 184: Bone Wars

After more than a hundred years, Brontosaurus is a dinosaur again. And once again, taxonomy is hard. The Dutch are the tallest people on the planet, but it wasn't always so. The average adult height in the Netherlands has increased by 20 centimetres in the past 150 years, and a new study looks at the possible reasons why. A one thousand-year-old Anglo-Saxon recipe for a treatment for an infected eyelash follicle has been found to be surprisingly effective against the superbug MRSA. The remarkably complete skeleton of an Australopithecus afarensis, known as "Lucy" is probably the world's most famous early human fossil. But a new look at the skeleton has found that the skeleton isn't all Lucy - one bone seems to be from a baboon.
5/8/201529 minutes, 8 seconds
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SoT 183: Period Pain Is On Special

Two major reports have highlighted the impending dangers of antibiotic resistance. In the UK a government report estimated that an outbreak of a drug-resistant infection in Britain could cause up to 80,000 deaths, while in the US the CDC issued an alert about a new strain of the common Shigella bacteria that is resistant to the usual antibiotics used to treat it. New observations suggest that while the universe is still expanding, and that expansion is accelerating, it might not be accelerating as fast as previously thought. The Large Hadron Collider has been restarted after numerous upgrades have been installed. Many people use paracetamol, or acetaminophen, as a painkiller for chronic lower back pain. But new research indicates it's ineffective for back pain or osteoarthritis. And it could be doing more harm than good. A new analysis of photographs of Jupiter's moon Ganymede has found a 'bulge' on the largest moon in the solar system. The bulge is 3km high and hundreds of kilometres wide!
4/30/201534 minutes, 39 seconds
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SoT 182: Don't Pick a Baboon's Nose

A new study has been published in the Lancet which suggests babies who were breastfeed were more likely to have higher IQs, spend more time in school, and end up in higher-paying jobs. A study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame looked at baboon social structure and how that affected variation in gut microbiota. A team based in Oxford has published a detailed genetic ancestry map of Great Britain - essentially a country-wide family tree. And that analysis demonstrated waves of migration by different populations into the United Kingdom throughout history. A serendipitous discovery by scientists at Stanford has found a way to convert leukemia cells into cancer-fighting immune cells. NASA is taking suggestions to name geologic features on Pluto and Charon when the New Horizons spacecraft flies past in July.
4/18/201533 minutes, 40 seconds
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SoT 181: The Urge To Sniff Your Hand

For the first time, a salty subsurface ocean on Jupiter's largest moon Ganymede has been detected through the use of auroras. The idea of a subsurface ocean isn't new, but auroras have never before been used as a detection mechanism. In an elegant experiment, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology have found that bacteria can share nutrients between each other through tiny feeding tubes. Researchers in France have modified memories in sleeping mice. My electrically stimulating parts of the brain they were able to associate certain locations with rewards. A team of scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel were testing the theory that people sniff their hands after handshakes. They secretly filmed 153 volunteers and discovered that handshakes could be responsible for transmitting chemical biosignals between people. There are 17 regions on Comet 67P that have material that appears to be moving. And now scientists may have figured out how these "wind tails" may be occurring.
4/3/201538 minutes, 19 seconds
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SoT 180: Condescending Chameleons

Astronomers using the Hubble Space telescope have found large methane storms raging on the planet Uranus. Only three animals go through menopause: humans, short-finned pilot whales, and killer whales. The leading theory behind this is known as the 'Grandmother hypothesis', but it doesn't explain other long-lived familial animals like elephants. Spectroscopy analysis may have revealed how chameleons change colour. Intricate latices of tiny photonic crystals reflect light differently depending on how they are aligned and the spaces between them. The microbes in a city's sewage could give an indication of the rate of obesity in the city, according to an American study.
3/23/201534 minutes, 7 seconds
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SoT 179: Mice Are Not People

The Dawn probe arrives at dwarf planet Ceres, and finds mysterious bright spots. An ecological study has found that large predators - lions, wolves, hyenas etc - regulate their population numbers, mainly through infanticide or social limitations on breeding. And we talk about #TheDress, and some explanations as to why people see it differently. Chemical engineers and astronomers at Cornell University suggest that Titan, Saturn's largest moon, could harbour life - but not as we know it.
3/17/201553 minutes, 57 seconds
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SoT 178: Live at Surfcoast Skepticamp 2015

70,000 Years ago, a small star passed within a light-year of Earth - within the Oort cloud on the edge of our solar system. New research suggests the sun can continue doing damage to our skin even when we go inside or cover up. A flawed study into the health effects of fluoride gets far too much media attention. Medical marijuana is not very effective for pain relief, and the industry is poorly regulated according to pain specialist Dr. Mick Vagg. A study of Europe's climate between the 14th and 18th century indicates that the Black Plague may have been spread more by gerbils, than rats.
3/10/201554 minutes, 3 seconds
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SoT 177: Kraken Mare

Scientists are 'baffled' by strange cloud-like plumes spotted 250km above the surface of Mars. Genetic analysis shows penguins can only taste salty and sour things, and they lost the other taste receptors a long time ago. Drinking three cups of coffee could reduce DNA strand breakages, which could lead to a lower risk of cancer and other illnesses. A NASA animation shows a high-tech submarine concept that could one day explore the liquid methane oceans on Saturn's moon Titan. One day in the very distant future. Maybe. A new study suggests that sugary soft-drinks could be part of the reason girls are starting their periods at a slightly earlier age.
2/26/201541 minutes, 49 seconds
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SoT 176: An Echoing Amphitheater of Taste

The UK parliament has voted to allow so-called 'three-person babies", a controversial method of IVF using with DNA from two women and one man. Scientists at a US conference have said it is time to actively try to contact intelligent life on other worlds. Researchers at the University of Illinois and colleagues at Nanjing University in China have found that the Earth’s inner core has an inner core inside it. An inner core in an inner core. The Conservation Canines program at the University of Washington trains dogs to sniff for the poop of endangered animals. More than forty dogs have been trained to sniff out up to 12 species each: wolverines, tapirs, iguanas, and even orcas. And high-speed cameras have answered a question we’ve always wanted to know: how does popcorn pop?
2/22/201536 minutes, 43 seconds
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SoT 175: I Broke The Scorpion!

The President's 2016 budget proposal has some big news for NASA - finally a mission to Europa! We look at some of the good and bad (but mostly good!) proposals made in NASA's FY2016 Budget Request.Scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, have discovered fossilised remains of bacteria from 1.8 billion years ago that, when compared to modern bacteria, doesn't appear to have evolved in that time.Many creatures can sever part of their tails, or their legs or other body parts when in danger. Some scorpions can break off part of their tails, but that creates some significant problems.Scientists in New Zealand have found a 'slippery zone' - a transition zone between the tectonic plates and the upper mantle. This discovery could provide new clues into the mechanics of plate tectonics.Halting the spread of Australia's notorious cane toad could be as simple as fencing-off water dams, according to a paper published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
2/18/201541 minutes, 24 seconds
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SoT 174: The Happiest Place on Earth (For Measles)

Visitors to Disneyland left with something more than just exhaustion and overpriced souvenirs this month. The Happiest Place on Earth has been identified as ground zero for an outbreak of Measles that has so far infected more than 84 people. Why Did Vaccinated People Get Measles at Disneyland? Blame the Unvaccinated Sherri Tenpenny’s Australian Tour Cancelled #stoptenpenny The Vaccination Chronicles Read Roald Dahl's Powerful Pro-Vaccination Letter (From 1988) 4 Ways Oprah Screwed The World (Nobody Ever Calls Her On) Scientists drilling in the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica have been surprised to find translucent fish and other aquatic animals living in perpetual darkness and cold, beneath a roof of ice 740 metres thick. There's a promising new stem cell treatment for the most common form of Multiple Sclerosis. After three years, 86 percent of trial patients have had no relapses, and 91 percent are showing no signs of MS development. In 2003, the Mars lander Beagle 2 was lost during its landing on Mars. Eleven years later the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found it - intact but only partially deployed. The 79AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius is famous for burying - and preserving - the city of Pompeii. But it also preserved another nearby town, Herculaneum. A new X-Ray technique is helping archaeologists read scrolls found there without opening and damaging them.
2/9/201546 minutes, 53 seconds
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SoT Special 17: Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki

SoT Special 17: Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki Karl is one of Australia's best known science communicators. He is the author of 36 popular science books, appears regularly on radio in Australia and the UK, and he is the Julius Sumner Miller Fellow in the Science Foundation for Physics at the University of Sydney.Ed sat down with Dr. Karl in December, shortly after the National Skeptics Convention where Karl was a speaker. Together they discussed climate change, science coverage in the media, dealing with denialists on Twitter, a man who can hear what you say before he sees your lips moving, a rare cure for cancer, Alan Turing and the Apple logo, and the origins of the term 'selfie'.
1/18/201538 minutes, 59 seconds
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2014 Bloopers Episode

Our end of year 'bloopers' episode is online! For all the funny, interesting and weird bits that didn't quite make the show in 2014, download the show from our website, at This show is NOT on our feed, to listen you will HAVE to download it manually from the website or listen on SoundCloud It does contain swearing and content that might not be suitable for children. So go to and click the download link!
1/11/20151 minute, 2 seconds
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SoT 173: Our Favourite Science Stories of 2014

Some of our best science stories from 2014. Comet landings, Ebola outbreaks, retracted stem cell studies, faecal transplant capsules and more! Climate Change and Australian science policy 2013 was Australia’s hottest year, warm for much of the world January 2014 southeastern Australia heat wave Coal 'good for humanity', Prime Minister Tony Abbott says at $3.9b Queensland mine opening Abbott brings back Science minister in cabinet reshuffle Polar Vortex - Why the Arctic Is Drunk Right Now Climate Change / Sinking Ship tweet Stephen Colbert tweet about global warming Microbiology Early Antibiotics Change Gut Microbes, Fuel Obesity A capsule containing poo can treat chronic intestinal infections The Quantified Microbiome Self Retracted STAP study How Japan’s most promising young stem-cell scientist duped the scientific journal Nature — and destroyed her career STAP retracted Setting the Record Straight Comet landing Scientific riches await Philae comet lander, if it wakes up Philae’s Wild Comet Landing: Crater Grazing, Spinning And Landing In Parts Unknown Viruses Polio Declared An International Health Emergency Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa SoT 167: Sticky Feet - Featuring our interview with Dr. Grant Hill-Cawthorne about the Ebola epidemic Other Centipede venom could lead to new class of pain drug
12/30/201434 minutes, 12 seconds
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SoT 172: It's Really Far

Rosetta has analysed the water found on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and found significant differences compared to water on Earth. This may weaken the theory that comets brought water to an early Earth.One of the most common minerals on our planet finally has a name. We've known Brigmanite exists for a long time, but it was a surprising source that gave scientists the opportunity to study it up close.The New Horizons spacecraft has just been successfully woken up, and is on track to giving us our first up-close look at Dwarf Planet Pluto next year.And the Dawn space probe has just taken its first low quality photo of minor planet Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt. Dawn is expected to arrive at Ceres in early 2015.Traditional forensic DNA tests can't tell the difference between identical twins, but a new test may change that. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for early next year to determine whether evidence from the test is admissible in US Courts.A three-year-old child died and several young children fell ill in Victoria, Australia after drinking raw milk. We discuss why unpasteurised milk is legally sold in Australia as 'bath milk' and why some people choose to drink it.
12/23/201440 minutes, 31 seconds
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SoT 171: No Unicorn Farts

Is HIV evolving in to a milder, less deadly virus? A new study suggests it's taking longer for HIV infections to cause AIDS and that this is the result of mutations in the virus.NASA's test launch and flight of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle was a success. This was an important step in an ambitious plan to send astronauts to an asteroid and then perhaps send astronauts to Mars.Biologists at Santa Fe College in Florida have found that our desire to drink alcohol, and our ability to break down the ethanol, dates back about 10 million years.Blood plasma from Ebola survivors contains antibodies that might trigger an immune system response in patients, a bit like a vaccine. This week the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that early next year it plans to begin clinical trials in Guinea to test if such blood transfusions are effective.Researchers from North Dakota State University have used Fructose to make a new type of plastic that breaks down completely after just three hours of UV light exposure. It can then be fully recycled.
12/15/201439 minutes, 3 seconds
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SoT Special 015 - Curiosity Show

Professor Rob Morrison and Dr Deane Hutton are Australian science communication heroes. Together they hosted the children's science TV show Curiosity Show, which ran for 18 consecutive years from 1972 to 1990. Ed and Lucas caught up with them at TEDxCanberra to talk about the show and its recent new episode, what they've done since then, and their views on science communication and education.   Rob mentions Duck Quacks Don't Echo (UK) as an example of good current science television.
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SoT 170: A Big Year For Zircon

More details on Philae's rough landings, and the future of the first probe to land on a comet. Professor Monica Grady's reaction to the landing, the sound of the landing, and the comet 'sings'.When a pair of scientists found their experiment contaminated from the DNA Isolation kits they were using, they set out to see if other experiments were similarly contaminated.Researchers at Australia's James Cook University have discovered tiny zircon crystals on Vanuatu. But surprisingly, they seem to have originally come from Australia.Scientists have descended into one of the three mysterious craters that have formed this year in Siberia, onto a frozen lake. The most likely explanation for the craters is a "catastrophic destabilization of Arctic methane stores due to human-caused warming".
11/27/201447 minutes, 47 seconds
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SoT 169: Proper Ice-cream

Shayne and Ed are joined by Dr. George Aranda, curator of the Science Book A Day blog and co-host of the Big Ideas Book Club in Melbourne. George is running a Pozible crowdfunding campaign to investigate the use of 3D Printers in school education.Scientists from University of Bern in Switzerland have developed a new approach to the treatment of severe bacterial infections without the use of antibiotics.The prestigious Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books has been awarded to Mark Miodownik, author of Stuff Matters. The book is an enthralling account of Mark's love of material science, and the extraordinary properties of the materials in our everyday lives.Cornell University’s Ruth Ley and her colleagues have identified one bacterial taxon, the family Christensenellaceae, as the most highly heritable group of microbes in the human gut.And for the first time ever, humans have landed a probe on a comet moving at 50,000kph.
11/20/201432 minutes, 20 seconds
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SoT 168: It's Not Milk It's Bean Juice

A team of bioengineers is trying to make artificial milk in a lab and without animals. They call it "Muufri".In order to study penguins up close, without disturbing them, researchers from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique used small baby-penguin sized rovers. The rover - cleverly disguised as a penguin - was able to monitor penguins and even quick-tempered elephant seals without alarming the animals.A man who had brain surgery for a serious medical condition unexpectedly found his arachnophobia cured.It was a bad week for commercial spaceflight, after Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket exploded seconds after launch and then Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo broke apart during a test flight.
11/15/201440 minutes, 54 seconds
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SoT 167: Sticky Feet

Virologist Dr. Grant Hill-Cawthorne joins us to discuss Ebola. Everything you need to know about the current outbreak.Researchers in Florida have noticed than in just fifteen years a particular species of lizard has grown larger, stickier feet as an evolutionary response to an invading Cuban lizard.In the lead up to the attempted landing of Philae on a comet in a few weeks, the Rosetta probe has taken some readings. And now we know what a comet smells like, and it's not pretty.A man with a completely severed spinal cord can now walk again, thanks to a revolutionary surgery using stem cells taken from his nose.
11/5/201441 minutes, 26 seconds
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SoT 166: That's No Moon

Defence giant Lockheed Martin has announced it wants to build a truck-sized nuclear fusion power-plant in the next ten years. They just don't appear to have a plan.The microbes in our guts have their own body clocks, and they too get messed up when we get jetlagged.The giant kangaroos that used to roam the Australian continent were three times the size of their modern descendants. And new research shows they used to walk, rather than hop.NASA's Messenger spacecraft has provided the first optical images of ice on the planet Mercury.Mimas, one of the smaller moons of Saturn, may have an ocean of liquid water beneath its surface, after pictures taken by Cassini show an extra wobble in its rotation.
11/1/201444 minutes, 13 seconds
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SoT 165: As Common As A Toilet Brush

More artifacts have been recovered from the Antikythera wreck, the 1st century BC shipwreck discovered in 1900 off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera. None of the newly found artifacts, however, appear to be related to the mysterious Antikythera Mechanism, widely known as the first analog computer. It had long been thought that volcanic activity on the moon stopped around a billion years ago. Now high-resolution images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) suggest there was activity as geologically recently as 50 million years ago. The next stage in fecal transplants could be a simple oral pill. Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital have managed to put frozen fecal matter into capsules that can be taken orally. These capsules have a similar 90% success rate against Clostridium difficile infection. In order to study energy trade-offs in voles, scientists had to shave 120 rodents before re-releasing the furry mammals back into the wild. And then they had to recapture them! There's a symbiotic relationship that's developed over millions of years between brewer's yeast and fruit flies. Understanding this relationship could give brewers more techniques for making distinctive beers.
10/25/201440 minutes, 45 seconds
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SoT 164: Cosmetically Satisfying Penis

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2014 was awarded with one half to John O'Keefe and the other half jointly to May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser "for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain".The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 was awarded jointly to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources".The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014 was awarded jointly to Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner "for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy".A team of scientists took soil samples at 596 sites across New York’s Central Park. They analysed the soil samples an discovered 167,000 different kinds of microbes, the vast majority of which were unknown to science.The characteristics of a previous mate can affect the attributes of a fruit fly's offspring. Even if the previous mate is not the genetic father of the offspring.Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina are developing artificial penises developed from a patient's own cells. The team is hoping to receive approval from the US FDA to begin human testing the lab-grown penises within five years.
10/19/201442 minutes, 8 seconds
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SoT 163: The 2014 Ig Nobel Prizes

The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make us laugh, then make us think. We take a look at this year’s winners: from banana peels to people dressed as polar bears! PHYSICS PRIZEA team from Japan for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that's on the floor.Banana peel slipperiness wins IgNobel prize in physics NEUROSCIENCE PRIZEScientists from China and Canada for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast.University Of Toronto Researchers Find ‘Seeing Jesus In Toast’ Phenomenon Perfectly Normal PSYCHOLOGY PRIZEA team from Australia, the UK and the US for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.THE DARK TRIAD: People Who Love The Night Have Psychopathic Traits PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZEA number of scientists from the Czech Republic, Japan, the USA and India for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat. Turns out it can be, if you get infected with our old friend Toxoplasma Gondii.Parasite makes men dumb, women sexy BIOLOGY PRIZEA team from the Czech Republic, Germany and Zambia for carefully documenting that when dogs defecate and urinate, they prefer to align their body axis with Earth's north-south geomagnetic field lines.Dogs align their bodies along a North-South axis when they poopDo Dogs Line Themselves Up With the Earth’s Magnetic Field to Poop? ART PRIZEThree scientists from Italy, for measuring the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, rather than a pretty painting, while being shot [in the hand] by a powerful laser beam.ITALY: Beautiful art eases pain ECONOMICS PRIZEISTAT — the Italian government's National Institute of Statistics, for proudly taking the lead in fulfilling the European Union mandate for each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants.In Italy, prostitutes and illegal drugs could shrink the deficit MEDICINE PRIZEA team from the USA and India for treating "uncontrollable" nosebleeds, using the method of nasal-packing-with-strips-of-cured-pork.The Bacon Tampon: Doctors Find Salt Pork Stops Nosebleeds ARCTIC SCIENCE PRIZEScientists from Norway, Germany, USA and Canada for testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears.Svalbard Reindeer: Thriving Again on the Tundra NUTRITION PRIZEScientists in Spain for their study titled "Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages."Pooperoni? Baby-Poop Bacteria Help Make Healthy Sausages
10/8/20141 hour, 3 minutes, 40 seconds
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SoT 162: The Racist Uncle

Professor Stephen Hawking has written a preface to a book, and his comments have gotten a little misinterpreted. Katie explains why the Higgs boson is absolutely not in any danger of destroying the world.A study of Spinosaurus bones has determined the sail-backed dinosaur had adaptations to make it better suited to swimming than running. This study suggests that Spinosaurus may have been the only known swimming dinosaur. And plesiosaurs and icthyosaurs were technically not dinosaurs. Neither were pterodactyls. In fact Everything You Were Taught As a Child About Dinosaurs Is Wrong.A very small number of people who get the flu vaccine still get the flu. And while there are a number of factors that could be responsible for this, a team of immunologists suggests one important factor could be the gut microbiome.The standard medical advice for patients with back pain wanting to have sex is to try spooning. But the first ever scientific experiment on the matter has shown that advice could be very wrong.
9/24/201438 minutes, 50 seconds
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SoT 161: Caffeine-Deprived Triffids

The Common Octopus, or Octopus Vulgaris, is the most studied of all octopus species. But all that studying has found so many differences between some, which could mean the Common Octopus is possibly as many as ten different species.Why coffee has caffeine: An international team of scientists has sequenced the genome of Coffea canephora, one of the main sources of coffee beans. By analysing its genes, they were able to reconstruct how coffee evolved to make caffeine.The availability of camera-phones and an increased mainstream interest in photography has led to the discovery of new insect species and behaviours. And the metadata stored with digital photographs provides a wealth of information for modern naturalists.Engineers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University have created a fabric knitted with electronic circuits that can be worn, washed, stretched, and even shot!
9/20/201434 minutes, 7 seconds
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SoT 160: Fox Found An Alien

Sean Elliott joins us to talk about the origins of life and his upcoming Melbourne Fringe show, Rough Science: Life.Cobi Smith joins us from CERN to talk about her Melbourne Fringe show, Delusions of Slander.The mystery of the ‘Wandering Stones’ of Death Valley may no longer be a mystery. Researchers have used video cameras, GPS units and a weather station to document and track how these large rocks move along the dry lake bed.Researchers at the University of Ottawa have done a really cool experiment with bichirs – a kind of fish that has gills and lungs. Bichirs have been known on occasion to walk on land – although somewhat awkwardly. But these researcherswere looking into the evolution of walking limbs. Essentially how our ancestors first crawled out of the ocean and became land-dwellersRussia’s infamous ‘space sex geckos’ did not survive their microgravity mating experiment. It is believed the heating equipment failed and the lizards froze to death.
9/11/201439 minutes, 8 seconds
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SoT 159: Everything's A Chemical

About ten years ago an entomologist at the University of Colorado found 250 forgotten boxes in a storage cupboard. Inside were 13,000 grasshopper specimens collected more than 40 years ago, which provide a fascinating insight into climate and other environmental changes in that time. A chance observation has led to the discovery that the blood of certain abalone has antiviral properties, which could lead to better treatments for the herpes simplex virus. The vitamin K injection at birth helps prevent newborn babies from severe intestinal or cerebral bleeding. A small but growing number of parents are declining the shot, and the anti-vaccination movement seems largely to blame. Drilling through 800m of ice has enabled scientists to find the first solid evidence on life in a subglacial lake. Yes, there’s bacteria there too. Giant panda Ai Hin has possibly demonstrated a learned behaviour - she pretended to be pregnant in order to get special treatment!
9/3/201444 minutes, 12 seconds
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SoT 158: Let?s Call It A Magpie

Mother turtles and their newly hatched babies talk to each other underwater, and scientists in Brazil have managed to record them. Taking antibiotics to kill ‘bad’ bacteria can be a good idea, but such disruptions to the gut microbiome can have long-term consequences for our health, and could even be making us fat. The widely held belief that magpies steal shiny objects seems to be myth-busted. Instead, they seem to avoid new objects regardless of shininess. Analysis of bones from King Richard the Third reveal that the last King of England to die in battle lived the good life. The samples indicate the King drank up to a bottle of wine each day.
8/30/201422 minutes, 45 seconds
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SoT 157: The Cephalopod Happy Ending

The Rosetta space probe has finally arrived and is currently in orbit around the comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko! Rosetta is now officially the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet.A previously unknown tribe of humans has emerged from the rainforest in Brazil and made contact with a settled indigenous community. They are believed to have fled illegal loggers and drug traffickers, but some have already contracted influenza.Newly discovered crAssphage could be the most common virus in your body. Nobody has ever seen it, and we didn’t even know about it until just recently.Grizzly bears will eat an extraordinary amount of food before going into hibernation. In humans, this would be a recipe for diabetes but it isn’t for the bears. Turns out there’s a protein called PTEN that’s responsible – and the trick is reducing its expression only in fat cells.What do you get when two scientists sequence their gut microbiome for a whole year? An amazingly detailed dataset that documents the changes our bodies go through during illness, travel and dietary changes.Being strangled during sex might be unfortunate, but being eaten by your mate afterwards would also be weird. Another reason to be glad you’re not an octopus.
8/22/201443 minutes, 26 seconds
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SoT Special 014 - Science In Australia

At our 150th episode celebration earlier this year, we were fortunate to have Dr. Krystal Evans address the audience to talk about science in Australia. Dr. Evans is a medical researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute where she is working on Malaria treatment and developing a vaccine. She is a leading advocate for science and technology, and was a founding member and Chair of the Australian Academy of Science’s Early and Mid Career Researcher Forum. In this talk she looks at how Australia stacks up against the rest of the world - both in scientific accomplishments and in investment. She talks about ways to motivate scientists to engage with the public, and also how to encourage the public to take an interest in science. And she answers that burning question: just how much is Australian politics like going on a date with a homeopath?
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SoT 156: Rubber Duckie Comet

Steve Nerlich from the Cheap Astronomy podcast gives us an update on the roller-coaster life of the ISEE-3 space probe. It was alive, then it died, then it was resurrected then it seemed dead but now it may be still alive again! Paleontologists have discovered the fossilised remains of one of the world's first known predators that lived in the sea around 520 million years ago. The fossils were detailed enough to show some of the brain structures. Researchers at UCLA have found eight types of electric bacteria - bacteria that eat and excrete electrons. The Rosetta spacecraft is approaching its target, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and its latest photos reveal the comet to be, well, rubber-duckie shaped. The comet could be two bodies joined together, and this could make the planned deployment of a lander a bit complicated. A well-preserved, complete fossil skeleton of the largest known microraptorine - a flying non-avian dinosaur - has been found in China. Called Changyuraptor yangi, the dinosaur was about 1.3 metres long and weighed 4kg. And it had four wings! Scientists at Dartmouth College are looking at a parasite commonly found in cat poo, Toxoplasma gondii, in an attempt to develop a cancer vaccine. When infected by 'Toxo', the human body produces cytotoxic T cells that cancer would normally shut down. And what happens when you put snakes in microgravity? In the ultimate Snakes On A Plane experiment, scientists found snakes either attack themselves or tie themselves in knots.
7/31/201442 minutes, 33 seconds
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SoT 155: The Grumpiest Mouse

Twenty-seven months ago the "Mississippi Baby" stopped HIV treatment and was believed to be free of the virus. Unfortunately, that changed this month when test showed the virus is back. It had gone into hiding and the now four-year-old girl will face years, possibly her whole life, on antiretroviral therapy. A scientist at a CDC research centre found a cardboard box containing six vials of the smallpox virus in a storage room. The vials are believed to have been left there since the 1950s, and there is always a possibility that there are other long-forgotten samples of the virus elsewhere. A study of mice that attempted to replicate the Dutch Winter Hunger have found that stresses on a mother can have epigenetic effects, altering gene expressions across multiple generations. When experimental stem cell therapies go wrong: an 18 year old paraplegic had stem cells from her nose placed in her spine as part of a trial. Eight years later, the cells had grown into a mass of nasal tissue containing a thick, mucous-like substance. Neonicotinoids are a controversial class of insecticides widely used in agriculture, that have been linked to declining bee populations. A new study reveals that they may be doing more widespread harm than just bees, and insect-eating birds could be affected by the disruption in the food-chain. Giant pandas, while technically belonging to the order Carnivora, almost exclusively eat bamboo. Bamboo is so nutritionally poor that researchers wondered how they survive. Turns out, they move around to different areas and eat bamboo in different stages of development.
7/26/201435 minutes, 21 seconds
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SoT 154: Epic Pie Fights

We’re not comfortable being bored, according to a study published in the journal Science. The paper suggestedpeople would rather give themselves electric shocks than be left alone with their thoughts. Where humans detect colours via three receptors in our eyes, the mantis shrimp have twelve. And a new study indicates six of those detect five different wavelengths of ultraviolet light. The mantis shrimp has adapted “nature’s sunscreens’ – mycosporine-like amino acids – and turned them into ultraviolet detectors. Despite not having ears, plants can ‘hear’ the chomp of nearby caterpillars. Two researchers from University of Missouri noticed plants produced a pesticide chemical when they heard the sound of hungry, hungry caterpillars. A common lichen in South America turns out to actually be 126 distinct species – and maybe more than 400. This highlights the difficulties involved in classifying and categorizing life, and the advances that modern gene technologies are bringing to taxonomy. After a comprehensive study of the world’s oceans, oceanographers “can’t account for 99 percent of the plastic that we have in the ocean“. There are a few hypotheses to explain the missing plastic, but none are very conclusive. Also Illinois has now banned the sale of cosmetics containing plastic microbeads, which are too small to be filtered from waste-water and end up released into oceans and other large bodies of water. Plucky Ukrainian astronomers have ‘adopted’ a star and given it a name that’s, well, somewhat insulting to Vladimir Putin.
7/16/201458 minutes, 49 seconds
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SoT 153: Electric Cats

The announcement earlier this year that the BICEP2 team had discovered gravitational waves is now mired in controversy. Dr. Alan Duffy joins us to explain why 'the biggest announcement' is now probably meaningless. In 2012, Facebook manipulated the newsfeed of 689,003 users as part of a psychological experiment. The company claims it was able to alter the moods of some users, but the study's methodology and ethical concerns have drawn widespread criticism. The electric eel - described by one researchers as "a 6-inch fish attached to a 5-1/2-foot cattle prod" - can deliver a powerful electric shock. Now, a study of its genome reveals this ability has evolved six separate times, in a remarkable example of convergent evolution. According to the World Health Organisation, the current outbreak of Ebola virus has killed 467, making it the most severe in recorded history. Italy is about to send its first female astronaut to the International Space Station, and she'll be taking a special zero-gravity coffee machine with her.
7/11/201459 minutes, 54 seconds
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SoT 152: A Brain The Size Of A Walnut

Koalas will cuddle specific tree types during summer heatwaves to cool down. Hugging the right tree can reduce a koala's body temperature by almost 70 per cent. Researchers have sequenced the genome of Eucalyptus grandis, a common type of gum tree. And this genetic blueprint, according to the researchers, could help design more powerful and efficient jet fuels. The project took five years and involved 80 scientists from 18 countries. A 36 year-old space probe, mothballed by NASA, has just been resurrected by a crowdfunded group of volunteers calling themselves the ISEE-3 Reboot Project. The team raised $159,502 on Kickstarter to cover the costs of writing the software to communicate with the probe, searching through the NASA archives for the information needed to control the spacecraft, and buying time on the dish antennas. 60 years after the suicide of one of the greatest mathematicians, Alan Turing, the test he gave his name to has allegedly been passed. The Turing Test is where a computer program tries to fool a human into thinking they're conversing with real human being.  A Russian chatbot sort of did that, by pretending it was a 13 year old Ukrainian boy who likes Eminem. But it's not the breakthrough that some people have claimed. A study on Bangladeshi children has found that the gut microbiome of malnourished children is less developed than that of healthy children. This suggests that food alone might not be enough to combat malnutrition, as the gut bacteria may need a boost as well. The National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC) is giant collection of yeast cultures, holding over 4000 strains collected over 65 years. While a lot of its cultures are stored for medical research purposes, it also acts as a kind of insurance agency for many pubs around the UK in case their unique strain of brewer's yeast is lost.
6/29/201443 minutes, 24 seconds
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SoT 151: So Cute I Want to Puke

A study suggests hurricanes with 'female' names have killed more people than 'male' names. But it's MUCH more complicated than that. Men are more likely than women to report severe pain after major surgery. But Women are more likely to complain after minor surgery. Because reasons. A tiny tick trapped in a droplet of amber more than 15 million years ago appears to have been infected with a bacteria similar to the one that causes Lyme disease in humans. The oldest known pair of trousers has been found in China, and their low-crotch design may have been for horseriding. A new study of marmosets gives some clues as to what causes stillbirth. It's not always the mother's fault, so lay off on the guilt-tripping, ok? The lead author of the controversial STAP papers, Dr. Haruko Obokata, has agreed to retract one (Update: now both) of the disputed papers.
6/14/201434 minutes, 20 seconds
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SoT 150: Several Moonwiches

Greenland is more vulnerable to melting than we thought, and the West Antarctic ice shelf is melting much faster and is now 'unstoppable'. The Great Red Spot on Jupiter is shrinking and changing shape. The top 10 new species of 2013 have been announced. Some of them are cute. The first farm to supply insects for human consumption has opened, but faces regulatory, engineering and cultural hurdles. Jupiter's moon Ganymede has layers of ice and water beneath its surface. NASA calls it a 'moonwich' but nobody else does. An elaborate experiment shows that fruit flies need to stop and think before making decisions. Also, fruit flies have decisions to make.
6/9/201441 minutes, 5 seconds
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SoT 149: Going FODMAP Free

The Australian researcher who provided the best evidence for non-celiac gluten sensitivity has now done more extensive research. He now believes gluten may not be the culprit after all. Polar bears, the largest land predators alive, have many genetic tricks they have developed to help them survive on an extremely high-fat diet. Ratites - flightless birds like emus, ostriches and rheas - have long been thought to have evolved from a single flightless ancestor. But now new research made with the largest genetic dataset of ratites suggests that they each lost the ability to fly independently. Paleontologists in Argentina may have unearthed many fossils of a new species of Titanosaur, which could be the largest animal ever to walk the Earth. However, its size is an estimate based on one bone, and similar estimates in the past have turned out to be wildly inaccurate.
5/28/201433 minutes, 30 seconds
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SoT 148: Birdie Feet Marks

Man-made electromagnetic noise is affecting migratory birds. But it's not wi-fi, microwaves or any of the usual culprits - just good old fashioned AM radio. US scientists have developed artificial DNA - X and Y base pairs - which then replicated with the normal G, A, T and C molecules when the cell divides. This could pave the way for new methods of developing drugs and other chemicals. Or Godzilla. A study with mice involving exercise, electric shocks and drugs have given new insights into how memories are formed, and why you can't remember being a baby. When bacteria can't sense other bacteria around them, they begin to mutate faster. If we could trick them into thinking they're not alone, we could slow down the development of antibacterial resistance. Four months after India was declared polio-free, the World Health Organisation has declared the resurgence of polio a "public health emergency of international concern."
5/26/201445 minutes, 48 seconds
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SoT 147: Exxonmobillium

Microbes from lakes in the French Pyrenees thrive on the fungus that has been linked to a dramatic decline in amphibian populations. A new spider species has been found in the Namibian desert, and it does cartwheels to escape predators. Rats and mice show increased stress levels when handled by male researchers rather than women, potentially skewing study results. The average height of British soldiers fighting in the First World War was 168cm. Today the average height for men of the same age is 178cm. A new study suggests that height change was not because of diet, but rather urbanisation. Sea turtle hatchlings, trying to find their way to the ocean have been confused by well-lit resorts and apartment buildings. A new project, funded in part by fines from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, aims to fix this problem with new LED lights. After being first discovered in 2010 by a team in Russia, super-heavy element 117 (Ununseptium) was found again by researchers in Germany. The confirmation means Ununseptium could shortly find its way onto the periodic table as the heaviest element ever made.
5/21/201440 minutes, 27 seconds
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SoT 146: It Hides My Face

Evolutionary biologist and author of Sex, Genes & Rock 'n' Roll Professor Rob Brooks joins us to talk beards, monogamy and evolution. Beards seem to be popular now, but we may be approaching 'peak beard', where beards are so common they lose their novelty appeal. Do babies cry at night to stop their parents having more babies? Evolutionary biologist David Haig thinks they may be unintentionally sabotaging their parents' sex lives. A ten year, worldwide project has finally sequenced the Tsetse fly genome. The findings from this massive effort could help in the fight against sleeping sickness, which kills nearly 10,000 people a year. Some dolphins use sea spongers as tools to help forage for food, and it appears to be affecting their diet. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a new test for human papillomavirus, but while it could one day replace a pap smear, it still requires a cervical sample.
5/10/201442 minutes, 22 seconds
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SoT 145: This Is Not My Office

The world's longest continuously running lab experiment, The Pitch Drop, finally drops for the ninth time. Cephalotes ants can glide to nearby trees when they find themselves skydiving. Also they use their heads as shields. The most Earth-like exoplanet yet has been discovered, just 10% bigger than our planet. We all know malaria is spread by mosquitoes, but in 1995 in Taiwan there was an outbreak that spread throughout a hospital without any mosquito assistance.
5/4/201431 minutes, 34 seconds
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SoT 144: Fetch Me My Big Hammer

Continental drift could have been started by a massive meteorite impact 3 billion years ago. Fossilised daddy longlegs reveal the arachnids had an extra pair of eyes 305 million years ago. And weren't cute then, either. A new study suggests that even if there was liquid water on the surface of Mars billions of years ago, there wasn't enough atmospheric pressure to keep it liquid for long. The UK Government has stockpiled over £500m worth of the antiviral drug Tamiflu. A study now finds that the drug would have little to know effect on the spread of influenza or the duration of flu symptoms. According to medical journalist Ben Goldacre, this finding is symbolic of substantial transparency issues within the pharmaceutical industry. Ten world-class violinists tested expensive 'Old Italians' - Stradivarius and del Gesu violins - against modern, much cheaper instruments. The modern instruments were overwhelmingly preferred.
4/27/201456 minutes, 27 seconds
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SoT 143: Little Rats Sneezing

We have six basic facial expressions, but computer software has shown we combine them to display hybrid emotions, like 'happily surprised' or 'angrily surprised'. Scientists have long suspected that Saturn's sixth largest moon, Enceladus, held large amounts of water beneath its icy surface. But now gravity measurements have found a large ocean below the southern polar region. Genetic modification could allow us to grow plants that are more easily broken down to make biofuels and paper. Contrary to a lot of media reporting, rats might not be completely off the hook when it comes to spreading the Black Death. On April 21st, NASA plans to crash a recent lunar probe, LADEE, into the moon.
4/18/201435 minutes, 27 seconds
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SoT 142: It’s Like an Old Teddy Bear

A woman with a bone disorder has had her cranium replaced with a 3D printed one, and shows no sign of rejection. Skeletons unearthed last year from a burial ground in London may suggest that the Black Death plague was spread via the air, not tick bites from rats. The rubber hand illusion is an old trick where your brain is fooled into thinking a rubber hand is your own. Psychologists in Italy have now made people believe the hands were made of marble. Because Italy. Could the Permian extinction, the largest mass-extinction on Earth, have been caused by the farts of single-celled microbes? Obakata, lead researcher in the STAP papers, found guilty of fabricating data. And an acupuncture trial gets undue media attention.
4/12/201445 minutes, 8 seconds
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SoT 141: The Sun, the Stars or by Magnetic Compass

Giant pythons in Florida's everglades can navigate vast distances, and we're not sure how. For the first time ever, an asteroid in our solar system has been discovered with a ring system. Dark chocolate is good for you, but it's the bacteria in your gut that make it so. Astronomers have discovered an icy body with an orbit so big it never gets closer than 12 billion kilometers from the Sun!
4/6/201428 minutes, 35 seconds
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SoT 140: Dick Cheney or The Penguin?

The most comprehensive infrared search of our skies has found no trace of "Planet X", the mythical giant planet on the edge of our solar system. The troublesome Western Corn Rootworm is developing a resistance to the genetically modified corn designed to thwart it. British archaeologists have found what they say is the world's oldest complete example of a human being with metastatic cancer. Tracing human migration across the pacific 3,000 years ago is tricky, but tracing the chickens they brought with them might be a better method. Climate For Change is a exciting grass-roots activism movement starting up in Melbourne, Australia. Katerina Gaita joins us to explain what they're doing and how you can be part of it.
3/26/201451 minutes, 32 seconds
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SoT Special 013 - Gravitational Waves and Cosmic Inflation

Last Monday, astronomers announced what has been described as "the biggest thing since dark energy" - detection of gravitational waves from the afterglow of the big bang. We got astronomer Dr. Alan Duffy from Swinburne University on to tell us what that means, and what it says about the very early stages of our Universe.
3/24/201437 minutes, 32 seconds
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SoT 139: An Apple On The Head Situation

More controversy over stress-induced stem cells, as co-authors call for the retractions of the papers. An aluminium suit could enable divers to travel to depths of 305 meters, move around and collect samples. A giant virus has been discovered in 30,000 year old Siberian permafrost. It's big and it eats amoebas. An Australian team is working on a project to clear space junk with a powerful ground-based laser. A study of how men and women perceive each other's mathematics skills suggests that both men and women unconsciously - and wrongly - believe women are 'bad' at maths.
3/20/201447 minutes, 4 seconds
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SoT 138: The Undistributed Middle

More studies finding no evidence of 'wind turbine syndrome', plus a discussion on dealing with climate change deniers. Could enough wind turbines reduce the force of hurricanes? Maybe, but it would need A LOT of turbines. In 2011 a 6 - 9 million year old whale graveyard was discovered at Cerro Ballena (Whale Hill) in Chile. But with time running out, researchers turned to a digital method of preserving the environmental context in 3D. A thin, stretchy, electric membrane moulded to a patient's heart could be the next stage in health monitoring.
3/13/201443 minutes, 22 seconds
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SoT 137: It’s Just Like College

Vaccines might not need to be kept cold to the extent previously thought. This could make vaccinations in third world countries cheaper and easier. The oldest crystal on Earth has been dated and found to be 4.4 billion years old. This means the Earth had developed a crust very early on, perhaps only a few hundred million years after formation. What's the best way to count whale populations? It could be from space. To learn about how humans and dogs process sounds and emotions, researchers had to train dogs to lie still in an fMRI machine. Which is amazingly cute. The fourth new species of an Australian marsupial with bizarre sexual behaviour has been discovered. These rodent-like animals actually disintegrate during their marathon sex-fests.
3/5/201434 minutes, 19 seconds
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SoT 136: It Should Be Venereal

A thorough investigation of the 'jelly doughnut shaped rock', known by NASA as Pinnacle Island, confirms it isn't an alien fungus, it isn't a meteorite fragment, it's just a chipped bit of rock. Doubts have emerged about the radical stem cell breakthrough that suggested acid or other stress could turn mature cells into stem cells. The jury's still out on this. Scientists have developed a detailed model of curly hair, which could give insights into the behaviours of all curved rods. Most importantly, headphone cables. An artificial hand wired directly into the nerves of an amputee gives the sensation of touch. The recipient could tell if objects were hard or soft, and even their shapes. A trace fossil gives clues how dinosaurs peed. We don't know which dinosaur, but we do know it was a lot of pee. The Burgess Shale is famous for its large collection of varied soft-tissue fossils, and another similar site has been found nearby. A 248 million year old fossil of a dinosaur giving birth has been found and raises questions about whether ancient sea monsters gave birth on land.
2/28/201444 minutes
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SoT 135: Googling Water Bears

Stephen Hawking has some new thoughts on black holes, but he's not saying they don't exist. For a few weeks, weather uncovered the footprints of five prehistoric humans. And then washed them away again. There's a leech that can survive being submerged in liquid nitrogen for 24 hours. Astronomers have discovered what could be one of the oldest stars, formed from the exploded remains of one of the first stars. The crippled Kepler Space Telescope has been resurrected, with an ingenious solution that restores part of its function.
2/17/201452 minutes, 17 seconds
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SoT 134: The Uber-Sex Of Science

A new method of turning adult cells into pluripotent stem cells is discovered. According to the paper, simply bathing cells in acid could be cause mature cells to revert to stem cells that could become any cell in the body. Heart researchers in the UK have managed to turn stem cells into heart cells, that actually beat in petri dishes. NASA plans to create the coldest spot in the universe on board the International Space Station. They're talking 100 pico-Kelvin, which is one ten billionth of a degree above absolute zero. Antioxidants may worsen lung cancer. Swedish scientists have determined why two antioxidants speed up the development of tumours. By training wallabies to 'play the pokies', an Australian team has discovered that wallabies see colours more like dogs than fellow marsupials.
2/11/201434 minutes, 8 seconds
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SoT 133: Live at Surfcoast Skepticamp 2014

Jelly donut shaped rock surprises NASA, then gets them sued. Tracking dogs by GPS may give clues to pack structure, but probably not. West Australia's shark cull begins, the same week that a report finds 1/4 of sharks and rays are threatened with extinction. Men supposedly forget more than women do, but the study has big issues.
2/4/201435 minutes, 12 seconds
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SoT 132: 99 Luftballons All Over Again

After nearly 11 years, the Rosetta comet-chasing spacecraft has awoken and is preparing for an ambitious mission. A new hypothesis for 'lactose persistence' - why most humans can still drink milk into adulthood. Why do sloths climb down from their trees to poo on the ground? It could be because of moths. China is getting into genetic modification and cloning on an 'industrial scale'. That's a lot of pigs. Biotechnology company Illumina has announced a machine that can sequence the human genome for under US$1,000. Personal genetics company 23andMe has run afoul of the FDA, but are they really that bad?
1/27/201443 minutes, 9 seconds
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SoT 131: Isaac Newton of the Marine World

2013 was Australia's hottest year on record, and the sixth hottest globally. Plus the 'polar vortex' hitting North America, and one of Australia's "most significant heatwaves". And the effect of "C2O" on jumping sea snails. Physics professors have searched the internet for evidence of time travel, and didn't find any. Are dolphins getting high on a toxin secreted by puffer fish? Truth is we really don't know. A new Staph vaccine shows promise in rabbits, but might not work as well in humans. A species of sea anemone has been found on the underside of Antarctica's ice sheets. They are the only marine animals known to live embedded in the ice, and no one is sure how they survive. When seven-year-old Sophie wrote a letter to CSIRO, Australia's peak governmental science organisation, she wanted to know what research was being done on dragons. The CSIRO responded beautifully, first apologising for the lack of dragon-research and then making her a titanium dragon with a 3D printer.
1/23/201439 minutes, 55 seconds
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SoT Special 12: Fred Watson on Space Tourism

The turn of the millennium has brought a new dimension to the Space Age - one that was undreamed of only a few years ago. Thanks to a combination of visionary entrepreneurs and an ailing Russian spaceflight programme, space tourism is now a reality that is set to take off dramatically in the near future. In this entertaining and fully-illustrated talk, Professor Fred Watson outlines what we might see as space tourism evolves into a mainstream branch of the industry. He argues that the new venture is not merely an expensive diversion for the very rich, but a necessary step in humankind's emergence as a space-faring species.
1/21/201454 minutes, 56 seconds
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SoT 130: The Best Science Stories of 2013

Ed, Shayne, Lucas and Dyani look back on the big science stories from 2013. From pubic lice to meteor impacts, crowd-funding to HIV cures, we revisit some of our favourite news items. For all the stories we mention, check out the show notes for this episode at
12/27/20131 hour, 6 minutes, 3 seconds
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SoT 129: The Pit of Eggs

Dr. David Hawkes' Name The Virus crowdfunding project is a huge success - and it got him a spot on national TV. But is crowdfunding just a passing fad? Comet ISON was billed as the "Comet of a Lifetime", but was more fizzle than sizzle. But even though it burned up in the sun, it's mysterious approach could give astronomers valuable insights into comet behaviour. An amazing result from a mice experiment in Atlanta suggests mice can 'inherit' memories from their fathers, and even their grandfathers. Researchers have successfully sequenced the oldest known human DNA - 400,000 years old - and uncovered further mystery about human ancestory. The male contraceptive pill could be a step closer thanks to an unusual approach taken by Australian scientists. Instead of looking at hormonally controlling sperm production, they are looking at controlling the release of sperm at orgasm. China has launched Chang'E 3, a probe with a rover set to land on the Moon. If successful, China will be the third country ever to land a craft on the moon.
12/17/201356 minutes, 45 seconds
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SoT 128: Plants on the Moon

Jo Benhamu joins us to talk about a new trial she's conducting to improve radiotherapy for prostate cancer. More progress resurrecting the extinct gastric brooding frog. Scientists in Spain have received funding to test whether an extinct mountain goat can be cloned from preserved cells. The temperature of the lab could potentially skew results of mice-studies. The mouse immune system is stronger at warmer temperatures than most labs are kept at. NASA has plans to send plants to the moon, to grow in a 3D printed miniature greenhouse. We pay tribute to Frederick Sanger, a two-time Nobel Prize winner and the 'father of genomics'.
12/13/201336 minutes, 25 seconds
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SoT 127: There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering kaboom!

Launch of the MAVEN probe to Mars, to investigate what happened to the red planet's atmosphere. Richard Lenski's long-term evolution experiment shows no sign of stopping. One of the longest continously-running scientific experiments demonstrates that bacteria evolves and at an increasing rate. The 'clean-rooms' where spacecraft are built are  the most sterile places we can make. But a new species of bacteria has been found in two such clean-rooms - not exactly thriving, but not dead either... It's well established that modern dogs are an evolutionary off-shoot of wolves, but there's a lot of debate about when and where they branched off. With theories suggesting China, Europe and the Middle East as being the sites of the separation, it's an ongoing question.
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SoT 126: In Flagrante Delicto

Blinky the crab is a mutant freak. It has three eyes instead of two, and an antenna-like structure on its head. But the reasons for Blinky's deformities are a bit of a mystery. Researchers have linked specific human actions to changes in global warming. They found warming slowed down in the nineties, which they believe can be partly explained by the 1987 ban on CFCs. They also found that warming slowed during the Great Depression. New-born babies deliberately suppress their own immune systems to allow beneficial microbes to colonise their gut. Asteroids 'dead' rocks in space. But recent images have shown one to have tails - six of them! A fossil of a 'coupling' 165m years ago shows two insects loving each other in a very special way. The fossil seems to indicate that the genitals of modern froghoppers are the same as their ancestors', but their favourite sexual position may have changed. 
11/25/201338 minutes, 8 seconds
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SoT 125: Timescales of the Argy-Bargy

The RAVE (Radial Velocity Experiment) study finds that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is fluttering like a flag. Sort of wobbling. From the 1960s to the 1990s, adult elphants were culled extensively in South Africa. It was feared that if there were too many elephants they would destroy the habitat. A recent study of the young elephants that were spared shows substantial social and psychological trauma, decades later. Astronomers have crunched some heavy maths and statistically, there could be as many as 20 billion Earth-like exoplanets in our galaxy. A study of tail-wagging dogs finds that a dog's heart rate and anxiety levels increase when it sees another dog wagging its tail to the left.  With India's successful launch of the Mangalyaan probe to Mars, some people are suggesting this could be the beginning of an India-China 'Asian space race'. Others are criticising the AU$77m project in light of India's widespread poverty.
11/19/201352 minutes, 17 seconds
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SoT 124: Name the Virus

Name The Virus is a crowdfunding initiative to develop new viral vectors to help understand the brain and its disease. A species of South African dung beetle has given up the ability to fly to instead gallop across the sand grasping bits of poo. Why do some people have blue eyes, or big noses, or wide mouths? Some regions of the genome previously thought of as 'junk DNA' control the activity of genes for facial features. The practice of recording bird calls and replaying them to lure birds into view is frowned upon by many bird-watchers, but some people still do it. A new study shows that it can stress birds out and harm them. The strains of human papillomavirus that most commonly affect black women are different from those targeted by the HPV vaccine.
11/13/201342 minutes, 56 seconds
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SoT 123: Jellyfish on a Space Shuttle

A new study shows that while the brain is asleep, it washes away buildups of wastes and toxins. In the early 90s, about 60,000 jellyfish were born in space. When they came back to Earth, things didn't quite work out. A test of alleged yeti samples uncovers an extinct polar bear/brown bear hybrid. A new law of biology: all mammals pee for about 21 seconds. Yes, a team of scientists walked around a zoo with a stopwatch. A new strain of Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that produces one of the deadliest neurotoxins we know of, has been discovered. Researchers have taken the unusual precaution of whithholding key details of the bacteria's genome.
11/5/201333 minutes, 52 seconds
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SoT 122: 2013 Nobel Prizes

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2013 was awarded jointly to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof ”for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells”. The Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider”. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013 was awarded jointly to Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel ”for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems”. A new study shows that even without training, elephants can understand pointing. A protein found in the venom of the Chinese red headed centipede could be a total painkiller.
10/27/201349 minutes, 19 seconds
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SoT 121: No Ruttin' Way!

In rutting season, stags roar a lot. Deep roars - the deeper the better for warding off competition. And that could have something to do with the human larynx, which is lower than most other animals. It could also explain why Barry White's voice is so popular with women. New research from the UK shows that diesel fumes are confusing bees and preventing them from finding flowers. But the fumes aren't affecting the bees directly, rather they change the smell of flowers. A study of ballerinas suggests that with extensive training they change their brains to allow them to spin without being sick. South Korean scientists have engineered bacteria that produce short-chain alkanes, key components of gasoline.
10/21/201332 minutes
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SoT 120: Yay Science!

Researchers have discovered the mechanism behind the link between blue-green algae and ALS, a type of motor neuron disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Dr. Rachael Dunlop is lead author of the paper, and she joins us to talk algae, Guam, fruit bats and General "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf. The foramen magnum is the hole in the base of your skull that the spinal cord passes through on its way to the brain. But it's position can tell a lot about how you - and your ancestors - walked. Bacteria can absorb fragments of DNA from the environment around them. This ability could be a previously ignored mechanism of evolution. A devastating earthquake in Pakistan created a new 'island', exciting geologists around the world. And it's already been littered with trash. A company in the UK has developed a plant that produces both tomatoes AND potatoes. So of course, they’ve called it the "TomTato".
10/9/201350 minutes, 7 seconds
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SoT 119: Drunk On Your Own Supply

A new form of exposure therapy could treat people's phobias - while they sleep. Can pasta make you drunk? A case study of a man with auto-brewery syndrome. Curiosity rover finds much less methane than expected, crushing hopes of finding life on Mars. A British team claims to have found evidence of extra-terrestrial life. They haven't. The life story of a blue whale has been mapped, with information from an unlikely source.
10/1/201333 minutes, 43 seconds
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SoT 118: The 2013 Ig Nobel Prizes

The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make us laugh, then make us think. We take a look atthis year’s winners: from dung beetles to penis amputations! MEDICINE PRIZEA team of scientists from Japan, China and the UK for assessing the effect of listening to opera, on heart transplant patients who are mice.Classical music affects heart transplants PSYCHOLOGY PRIZEScientists from France, the USA, UK, The Netherlands, and Poland for confirming, by experiment, that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive.“Beauty in the eyes of the beer holder” – people who think they’re drunk, think they’re hot JOINT PRIZE IN BIOLOGY AND ASTRONOMYA team from Australia, Sweden, Germany, South Africa and the UK for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way.Dung Beetles Watch the Galaxy (That’s How They Roll) ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZEAmericans Brian Crandall and Peter Stahl, for parboiling a dead shrew, and then swallowing the shrew without chewing, and then carefully examining everything excreted during subsequent days — all so they could see which bones would dissolve inside the human digestive system, and which bones would not.Missing morsels – chewing over the results of eating a shrew SAFETY ENGINEERING PRIZEThe late Gustano Pizzo for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers — the system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane’s specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival.IgNobels, 2013: The Safety Engineering Prize! PHYSICS PRIZEScientists from Italy, UK, Denmark, Switzerland, Russia, and France for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond — if those people and that pond were on the moon.Could humans run on water? CHEMISTRY PRIZEA team of Japanese scientists for for discovering that the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists previously realised.GM could hold back the tears PEACE PRIZEAlexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.What is the sound of one hand clapping? PROBABILITY PRIZEScientists from the UK, the Netherlands and Canada for making two related discoveries: First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.Why do cows have their ups and downs? PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZESeven doctors in Thailand for the medical techniques described in their report “Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam” — techniques which they recommend, except in cases where the amputated penis had been partially eaten by a duck.Reattachment of the penis. Unless it was first eaten by a duck.
9/26/201345 minutes, 32 seconds
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SoT Special 010 – Big Data in a Time of Need

On Friday 13 September 2013, Dr. Pamela Gay gave a talk at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia about and the need for citizen science. There were also some questions about black holes and supernovae. Our thanks to Swinburne University for hosting this lecture, and our apologies for the audio quality.
9/21/20131 hour, 1 minute, 28 seconds
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SoT 117: It's A Hoax

Fish expert Phil Kent joins us to talk more about the pacu, the alleged testicle-eating fish allegedly found off the alleged coast of Denmark. University of Washington researchers have sent a signal from one scientist's brain over the internet to control the hand motions of another researcher. The NSA is paying close attention. NASA has discovered one of the largest canyons in the world underneath the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland. The ice sheet is 3km thick in some parts, and scientists are surprised it hasn't worn away the canyon that was carved out four million years ago. The conventional understanding that babies are born sterile is being overturned in the face of growing evidence that mothers 'seed' their fetuses with bacteria from early on in the pregnancy. Babies can learn words while in the womb, and can remember those words after being born. By monitoring the brain waves of newborns, scientists have discovered the babies recognised 'pseudowords' they heard in the womb. A fish experiment suggests that leadership is an innate quality. 'Leader' fish could be taught to follow other fish, but 'follower' fish struggled to become leaders. Fish have more personality than you might think.
9/11/201341 minutes, 9 seconds
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SoT 116: The Baby Disease

In a town with no previously recorded earthquakes, more than a hundred were recorded in one year. It's thought they were triggered by the disposal of waste water from fracking. A new world record has been set for the smallest sequenced genome, and it belongs to a symbiotic bacteria living in leafhoppers. Mother gibbons teach their daughters to sing, using a kind of 'baby talk'. And ancient 'bog body' has been found with the skin intact. The body may be that of a king, killed in a ritual sacrifice. Because axes. 'Chronic excreters' could be the big obstacle preventing the global eradication of Polio. A scientist jokes about a testicle-eating fish, and cable news anchors panic. And giggle.
9/4/201355 minutes, 38 seconds
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SoT 115: Ozzie-Nauts

Mighty Maggots v Flesh Nom Bugs was a Pozible campaign that raised $9,970 for a trial. The trial aims to assess the ability of maggots to improve the rate of healing for people with Bairnsdale Ulcer lesions. A new malaria vaccine has a 100% success rate in a small study. While promising, there are a lot of obstacles that need to be dealt with before this could be a viable Real World treatment. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has admitted that radioactive water has been leaking from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean. A material inspired by the cactus plant cleans tiny particles of oil from water. 100,000 adventurous people have signed up for a one-way trip to Mars. But did they read the timeline before signing on the dotted line?
8/26/20131 hour, 3 minutes, 36 seconds
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SoT 114: Frankenburger

Scientists have made "teeth-like structures" from stem cells generated from urine. Mark Post, a Dutch researcher has made a hamburger from cow muscle grown in a lab. The Cultured Beef was cooked at a PR event in London and tastes "close to meat". Brochosomes are tiny 'soccer-ball' structures secreted by leafhoppers that protect them from rain, spider silk and... their own waste. A new technique developed by the CSIRO uses X-Rays to find gold in ore samples. Fewer boys than girls were born in the months after the huge earthquake struck Japan in March 2011.
8/18/201336 minutes, 44 seconds
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SoT Special 009 - Dr. Pamela Gay

Dr. Pamela Gay is an astronomer and assistant research professor at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. She is the co-host of AstronomyCast, one of the longest running astronomy podcasts and Project Director for CosmoQuest is a non-profit organisation trying to engage people in both learning and doing science. In this conversation we talk about her research on variable stars, as well as her involvement in citizen science and amateur astronomy. We discuss science education and funding, how AstronomyCast began and Pamela's inspirations. You can find Pamela at her blog, You can learn more about CosmoQuest at You can listen to AstronomyCast at
8/11/201351 minutes, 41 seconds
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SoT 113: A Brain The Size Of A Pea

It was thought that the many eyes on a peacock's tail feathers were what impressed peahens. But a new - and really cool! - study suggests that when it comes to wooing peahens, size does matter. It's not the number of the eyes, but the width of the tail. Do dolphins use names? Well, sort of. They may use names to refer to themselves, but we don't know if they use names to refer to each other. Scientists at MIT have developed a technique to insert false memories into mice.  Three new studies have uncovered the genetic mechanism which controls regeneration in flatworms. Researchers at the University of Tokyo say they have created electronics thin and flexible enough to be considered “imperceptible.” Their first prototype, a touch sensor, is 30 times lighter than printer paper and one-fifth the thickness of sandwich wrap.
8/7/201333 minutes, 14 seconds
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SoT 112: Cold Hard Cash

The iKnife knows when it's cutting through healthy tissue or cancerous tissue during surgery. In 91 tests, it correctly identified the tissue every time, and in less than a second. Chimpanzees and orangutans can use 'autobiographical memory' - previously thought to be unique to humans. In a series of tests, the apes were able to accurately recall an event that happened three years prior. Genetecists may have found a way to switch off the rogue chromosome that causes Down's syndrome.  The discovery of two giant viruses could mean an entirely new kingdom of life. More than 93% of their genes are unknown and not on any existing database. Robert Hooke's Micrographia is available as a free e-book thanks to Project Gutenberg. Also check the Wikipedia page. The 2013 NZ Skeptics Conference will be held in Wellington from the 6th to the 8th of September. Great speakers like astronomer Dr. Pamela Gay, climate scientist Professor Martin Manning, microbiologist Dr. Siouxsie Wiles and many more.
7/31/201339 minutes, 27 seconds
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SoT 111: The Brunswick Manoeuvre

The Kepler spacecraft has found 134 confirmed planets outside our solar system and another 3,277 unconfirmed candidates. But has its time run out? NASA scientists are planning one last ditch effort to rescue the space telescope. Meanwhile Hubble has analysed a planet 63 light years away and found it's a deep blue colour! Also, it's big and moving really really fast. Lucas has found a gravity simulator that lets you build solar systems and watch as objects of different mass interact. It's mesmerising! A look back at some old Hubble photographs led planetary astronomer Mike Showalter to discover a new moon orbiting Neptune. The planarian is a simple flatworm, which can regrow its head after decapitation. But a recent experiment suggests they might be able to keep their memories from before the decapitation!
7/23/201330 minutes, 19 seconds
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SoT 110: The Mad Bird Collector

Human head transplants - technically maybe, but not really. Did scientists create a human liver from stem cells? Sort of, but not really. A bone marrow transplant cures two men of HIV - actually yes, but don't get your hopes up. Beware the toad with the weaponised moustache! Guillemot eggs clean themselves. Pluto's moons get official names, snubbing Stephen Colbert.
7/16/201335 minutes
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SoT 109: Not Quite Jurassic Park

Shockwave from Russian meteor circled the globe twice Russian rocket crashes shortly after launch Global warming could be helping the spread of brain-eating amoebas Why routine autopsies should be the norm, not the exception A corn-eating pest thwarts farmers, but the bacteria makes them do it Scientists have sequenced the genome of an ancient horse Dopamine: why chocolate brownies are like cocaine Torch that runs on body heat invented by 15-year-old
7/10/201343 minutes, 32 seconds
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SoT 108: Happy Nuts

Why naked mole rats don’t get cancer Thinking of home makes it harder to learn a foreign language Your vegetables are 'alive' up to a week after harvest Being bitten by a komodo dragon: not as bad as you thought, but still pretty bad Unlocking the parasitic secrets of 822 year old poo Unsurprisingly, 1 billion-year-old water tastes "terrible"
7/1/201337 minutes, 47 seconds
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SoT 107: Closer To A Mushroom

Temperatures on Mars rise and fall twice a day New phylum of bacteria discovered Ancient armoured fish had abs Leprosy from medieval knights is much the same as modern-day leprosy Supreme Court rules on human-gene patents
6/26/201346 minutes, 8 seconds
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SoT 106: I Like My Squids Curvy

Australian Bird Moves Like Jagger and Sounds Like Space Invaders Comet Lovejoy flies into Sun to reveal solar secrets Australian squid eat sperm for better bodies and babies Growing Left, Growing Right- why your left is different to your right
6/17/201333 minutes, 34 seconds
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SoT 105: Delicious Mammoth Meat

400 Year old frozen plants get thawed out and revived. A Russian scientist claims to have found liquid blood in a 10,000 year old woolly mammoth carcass. The iron in beads worn by pre-Iron Age Egyptians came from meteorites. 1 in 13 museum visitors have 'ape-like' feet. An old theory about the evolution of the turtle's shell gets some supporting evidence. And a new therapy for schizophrenics shows promise.
6/9/201353 minutes, 3 seconds
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SoT 104: This Bird Is An Orc

Vitamin C kills tuberculosis in an accidental discovery. Why penguins can swim but not fly. A Neanderthal tooth gives a clue about the history of breastfeeding. The pathogen that caused the Irish Famine gets its genome sequenced. Our guts are full of bacteria, and even more viruses. The 'top ten' new species discovered in 2012. Cockroaches are evolving to avoid our traps. More show notes at
6/4/201345 minutes, 39 seconds
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SoT 103: FAOUN

UN says insects are the food of the future. Underground water reservoir untouched for over a billion years. Stem cells created with cloning technique. Plan to monitor endangered ecosystems, not just animals. Egyptians got it on more in Summer, and the co-evolution of humans and dogs. More show notes at
5/28/201341 minutes, 54 seconds
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SoT 102: Made Lethal To Tumor Cells

One third of all US honeybee colonies died last Winter. A protein in breast milk can help fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Plants talk to each other through a fungus. Some words may have survived with little changes for 15,000 years. More show notes at
5/20/201340 minutes, 38 seconds
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SoT 101: Propelled by Propellers

Solar powered plane completes the first leg of its trans-American trip. A Russian scientist claims to have found meterorites from the Tunguska event of 1908. A blood test could determine if you're going to get Alzheimer's disease - but would you want to know? Newly developed nanosheets soak up oil spills. And the 6" skeleton named Ata isn't as alien as it looks.
5/14/201338 minutes, 24 seconds
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SoT 100: Intrauterine Cannibalization

The unborn sharks that eat their brothers and sisters. A fish that uses gestures. The ambiguity of language and the seven misused science words. AquAdvantage salmon, the first transgenic animal created for consumption, being tested by the FDA. Traces of supernovae found in ocean bacteria.
5/6/201344 minutes, 45 seconds
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SoT 99: Are They Good Eating?

Can we innoculate babies with 'good' bacteria to ward of bad bacteria? An ugly, unpalatable living fossil fish gives clues about the origins of limbs. A 'nano-suit' could protect living specimens in scanning electron microscopes. At what point does a baby become conscious? And more evidence suggests island dwarfism is behind the 'hobbit' remains discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia.
5/4/201344 minutes, 53 seconds
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SoT 98: WIMPs and MACHOs

Data collected on the ISS gives clues about dark matter. New analysis fo data from a soviet balloon probe suggests it encountered a rain shower on Venus. Iceman Otzi had bad teeth. How eating red meat could lead to heart attacks. And can a new take on an Old Wive's Tale be the answer to bed bug infestations?
4/25/201342 minutes, 41 seconds
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SoT 97: Hypnopompic Hippopotamuses

Obama announces brain-mapping plan. Scientists decode dreams with brain scans. The active ingredient in magic mushrooms could treat severe depression, but conducting trials is a legal nightmare. A turtle believed extinct for decades never really existed. How nerve cells generate energy. Buzz Aldrin's toothbrush, and other space memorabillia, up for auction. And a new species of giant tarantula has been discovered and is "pretty", venomous, and the size of your face.
4/16/201350 minutes, 7 seconds
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SoT 96: Street View Is Here

Henrietta Lacks's immortal cancer cells, and the ethical controversy surrounding them. An unusual virus could be the source of a mysterious form of hepatitis that causes liver failure in most horses. If you thought mating in humans was complicated, spare a thought for the protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila, with its seven sexes! Could the mysterious 'fairy circles' in Africa be the result of termites, rather than alien landing pads?
4/8/201332 minutes, 33 seconds
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SoT 95: Bacterial Hugs

Voyager 1 has left the solar system. Or has it? Yes. And No. Sort of. The Great Roller Derby Bacteria Swap Three-person IVF could prevent mitochondrial disorders The bacteria that kills itself to spare the rest of the colony from infection The most detailed map of the Universe shows it's a little older than we previously thought.
4/2/201341 minutes, 27 seconds
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SoT 94: Save The Fat Bottomed Slug

Bizarre, extinct frog set to spawn again The Promise and Pitfalls of Resurrection Ecology Bringing Them Back to Life ‘We Have a Limited Window of Opportunity’: CDC Warns of Resistance ‘Nightmare’ 'Nightmare' superbug alarm at Dandenong Hospital The “Nightmare Bacteria”: An Explainer Windfarm sickness spreads by word of mouth, Australian study finds Devil cancer's evasive trick revealed Ancient Mars Had Conditions Suitable for Life
3/26/201345 minutes, 23 seconds
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SoT 93: An Extremely Large Telescope

Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. A baby has been cured of HIV. Sub-glacial Lake Vostok has life! No wait, it doesn't. 60 Second Science - a video competition with $10,000 in prizes up for grabs! The next crop of telescopes are enormous. Diamonds may originate from life on the sea floor.
3/19/201346 minutes, 5 seconds
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SoT 92: Vulcan Rat Mind-Meld

The winning names for two new moons of Pluto are "Vulcan" and "Cerberus". Wiring the brain of Rat A to the brain of Rat B and watching them communicate. The genetic effect of lack of sleep. An old space tourist thinks sending old people to Mars is a good idea. And the deepest undersea vents are discovered, with some freaky life nearby.
3/11/201333 minutes, 57 seconds
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SoT 91: Spiders, Snakes and Dead Mice in Guam

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall and Dr. Simon O'Toole. The discovery of the smallest planet ever found, and why we should care. Flowers use electric fields to communicate with bees. Could the flu virus have an Achilles' heel? And why are scientists dropping dead mice from helicopters in Guam? Mosquitoes could be developing a resistance to Deet, internet entrepreneurs announce Nobel-like prizes, and January 2013 was quite hot.
3/5/201342 minutes, 12 seconds
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SoT 90: An Ice Core of Pee

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. The toilet habits of a small mammal gives climate scientists 55,000 years of data. The humble appendix might not be so useless. An experiment gives some clues about how to repel Earthquakes. The bacterial mechanism behind melamine contaminated milk is discovered. Brushing your teeth might be doing more harm than good. Why is the human body so poorly 'designed', and Captain Kirk weighs in on the name for a Plutonian moon.
2/25/201337 minutes, 12 seconds
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SoT 89: Sky Fall in Russia

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. Huge meteor blazes across the sky in Russia. A computation of what the last common ancestor of placental mammals looked like. A robot with artificial but transplantable organs goes on display. Why insects constantly clean their antennae. The self-assembling molecules that give clues to the origins of life. France moves to curb light pollution. Thousands of spiders crawling across the Brazilian sky.
2/18/201340 minutes, 51 seconds
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SoT 88: Monkeys In Space

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall, Dr. Simon O’Toole. Topics covered: TW Hydrae is a star that should be too old to have a proto-planetary disc, but has one. The skeletal remains of King Richard III are found under a car park in Leicester, the secret to owls rotating their heads, and Iran launches a monkey into space. Plus the strange things taught as science in some schools, and lots more!
2/11/201336 minutes, 52 seconds
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SoT 87: Complex Mating Rituals With Balls of Dung

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday. Topics covered: A recap of what we talked about last week, in the episode that disappeared. Leprosy bacteria induces stem cells in the host body, dung beetles use the sky to navigate, and a Harvard Professor that doesn't plan to clone Neanderthals. Scientists watched naked babies falling over and we look at some of the best White House petitions.
2/3/201335 minutes, 45 seconds
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SoT 86: Flabby Thighs and Spare Tyres

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Steve Nerlich. Topics covered: Genetic expression differs between belly fat and thigh fat, and a breath test that could detect bacterial infections almost immediately. Why Mars colonists could get fat and lazy, and the selection criteria for the Mars One reality show. Plus the defensive mechanisms of shark fetuses, and millions cry out in terror as plans to build a Death Star are scrapped.
1/21/201343 minutes, 5 seconds
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2012 Bloopers Episode

Our end of year 'bloopers' episode is online! For all the funny, interesting and weird bits that didn't quite make the show in 2012, download the show from our website, at This show is NOT on our feed, to listen you will HAVE to download it manually from the website. It does contain swearing and content that might not be suitable for children. So go to and click the download link!
1/5/20131 minute, 36 seconds
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SoT 85: Priscilla The Yutyrannus

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Dr. Mick Vagg, Upulie Divisekera, Lucas Randall. Ed, Shayne, Upulie, Mick and Lucas take a look back at the big stories in science from 2012. From feathered dinosaurs to robot hands, the Higgs boson to Mars colonies, the panel relives their favorite news items. For all the stories we mention, check out the website for this episode, at
12/24/201251 minutes, 25 seconds
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SoT 84: The Mad, Bad Uncle

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: James Cameron releases results from his deep dive. How maggots heal wounds. NASA plans to send Curiosity twin to Mars in 2020. Golden Spike plans to send people to the moon for $750 million. The data from the GRAIL probes mapping the gravity of the moon is released. A retrovirus marks an evolutionary point for Koalas. RIP Sir Patrick Moore, 1923-2012.
12/18/201257 minutes, 10 seconds
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SoT 83: Science At The Speed Of Science

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Kevin Orrman-Rositer. Topics covered: The Mars Curiosity rover's discovery is announced. Bacteria found in an underground Antarctic lake demonstrates the resilience of life.  German scientists are developing a new vaccine strategy using mRNA that could make flu shots cheaper, safer, and easier to produce. A blood test that can detect cancers very early on is being developed - but it's a long way away. New research suggests birth weight is not solely determined by maternal nutrition, but it’s also partly genetic. NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has detected evidence of water ice on Mercury. SpaceX founder and entrepreneur Elon Musk has a grand plan to start a colony on Mars, seeding it with 80,000 settlers per year.
12/10/201239 minutes, 7 seconds
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SoT 82: We Love Data

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: The holes bored into ancient wood-carvings give insights into insect migration. Could we be missing important worms from our intestines? The evolution of vision in animals dates back 700 million years. A chemical reaction appears to reanimate mycoplasma. Scientists warn that grapefruit can have serious complications with a growing number of prescription medications. An American and Russian crew plan to spend a year onboard the International Space Station.
12/3/201235 minutes, 8 seconds
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SoT 81: You Asexual Bdelloid!

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Cobi Smith. Topics covered: Our Total Solar Eclipse experiences. A 'rogue planet' discovered and photographed. The planet is not gravitationally linked to a star. A study of the microbes in belly buttons reveals a surprising diversity. The bdelloid rotifer, despite being asexual for 80 million years, has incorporated foreign DNA to help it adapt. A newly developed prosthetic hand is a lot like Luke Skywalker's hand. Transplant from nasal cells enables paralysed dogs to walk. Do great apes have mid-life crises? Maybe. A rant about the endless speculation sparked by a Curiosity scientist's gaffe.
11/25/201258 minutes, 55 seconds
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SoT 80: Indiana Jones on a Spaceship

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Simon O’Toole. Topics covered: Some scepticism about the nearest exoplanet discovered. Amateur astronomers find planet in four-star system. ‘Zooniverse’ citizen science projects. Key test for re-healable concrete. 2012 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science Astronomer wins PM’s Science Prize for dark matter discovery Science Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year – Mark Shackleton Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year – Eric May Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools – Michael van der Ploeg Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools – Anita Trenwith All living bird species mapped in giant family tree Breakthrough Hendra virus vaccine released for horses Abdominal porthole reveals how tumours come together
11/10/201246 minutes, 38 seconds
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SoT 79: Giant Ball of Poo

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Alan Kerlin. Topics covered: Trouble in space: SpaceX engine failure and cargo loss. Russian rocket also has problems, creates space debris. Mysterious bacteria form electric cables under the sea. The hole in the Ozone layer still getting smaller. Nanoparticles help diagnose disease without waiting for the path lab. Private space company Blue Origin tests an emergency crew escape system. Cooking food was key to our big brains. The dung beetle's intricate and bizarre cooling system.
11/6/201253 minutes, 38 seconds
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SoT 78: The Dark Side of Science

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Rachael Dunlop. Topics covered: Funding cuts to Australian research Genetically modified mouse to detect landmines The DNA inside the virophage inside the giant virus inside the amoeba 'Erasing' traumatic memories from mice Sexism in science and skepticism Make The World Better - a talk by Pamela Gay How the sound of crying babies affects the brain Italian scientists face jail over earthquake manslaughter charges
10/27/201255 minutes, 10 seconds
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SoT 77: Wobble

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely. Topics covered: Felix Baumgartner's world-breaking skydive from the edge of space. Brainless slime mould can 'remember' where it's been. Possible new control method for the Crown of Thorns starfish. DNA half-life - why Jurassic Park is impossible. Closest planet outside our solar system discovered. Mars Curiosity looks at an 'unusual' rock. Could chocolate help you win a Nobel prize? (Answer: No.)
10/19/201253 minutes, 25 seconds
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SoT 76: 2012 Nobel Prizes

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Mick Vagg. Topics covered: 2012 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine:  Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent". 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics: Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems". 2012 Nobel Prize for Chemistry: Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka "for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors". Chemistry vs Biology controversy. New painkillers could come from the super-toxic venome of the black mamba snake. Mosquitoes have adapted a way to get around mosquito nets.
10/14/201232 minutes, 54 seconds
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SoT 75: Supergerm Takes Out Dolly

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: Genetically modified cow makes milk without allergy protein. DNA from the fetus ends up on mother's brain. A cure for acne could be a virus. Great Barrier Reef losing half its coral cover. Transient Tech - electronics that dissolve in water. A woman grows a replacement ear on her arm, and men without testicles could live longer than those who don't.
10/8/201237 minutes, 48 seconds
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SoT 74: 2012 Ig Nobel Prizes

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Maia Sauren. The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make us laugh, then make us think. We take a look at this year’s winners: from ponytails to reports about reports about reports. Psychology prize: Lean a little to the left, do I look shorter to you? Peace prize: Ammo is a girl’s best friend? Acoustics prize: The SpeechJammer. The shut up machine for the passive aggressive. Neuroscience prize: Scanning Dead Salmon in fMRI Machine Highlights Risk of Red Herrings Chemistry prize: Why Did Hair Turn Green for Residents of a Certain Town? Literature prize: I think we need another report. Physics prize: Like How Your Hair Hangs? Praise the Laws of Physics Fluid dynamics prize: Physicists Dive into Oscillation Frequency of Coffee Anatomy prize: Chimps can recognise friends by their behinds Medicine prize: When people explode during colonoscopies
9/30/201243 minutes, 5 seconds
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SoT 73: Monkeys on Crack

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Simon O’Toole. Topics covered: The Lesula, a newly discovered monkey: cute or creepy? A brain implant improves thinking in monkeys. Scientists explore whether bacteria will swap genes with other similar or different species. NASA's GRAIL mission releases it's first set of results, with surprising new information about our moon. Stem cells improve the hearing of deafened gerbils. And a team develops a coating that makes water boil without bubbles!
9/21/201235 minutes, 37 seconds
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SoT 72: An Army of Roaches

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday. Topics covered: The ENCODE project reveals function in previously thought 'junk' DNA. The role of malaria in human evolution. The mystery of the missing dinosaur tales. Could man-made structures like wharves and oil rigs be causing a bloom of jellyfish? Brain-controlled robot legs could help the paralyised walk again, and remote-controlled cockroaches could take over the world and enslave humankind. This episode uses audio from the video "ENCODE: The story of you", produced by Nature and copyright © 2012 Nature Publishing Group, used with permission.
9/14/201244 minutes, 43 seconds
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SoT 71: The Least Strange Thing About Christopher Walken

Hosts: Ed Brown, Lucas Randall, Greg Wah, Dan Beeston. Topics covered: Could reality television partly fund a colony on Mars - by 2023? Does the shape of the glass affect how much beer you drink? Mapping the genome of a Denisovan (an ancient human cousin). Bacteria that makes insects destroy their own brains and genitals. And astronomers discover a star with a tasty ring of sugar.
9/7/201243 minutes, 40 seconds
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SoT 70: Tools Painted Pink

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Alan Kerlin. Topics covered: Death of Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon. Could antibiotics be making us fat? A step closer to the male pill. Bacterial infections controlled by RNA, and bonobos can make and use tools.
9/2/201237 minutes, 44 seconds
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SoT 69: The Other Two Mice

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: Mars update: Curiosity fires a laser, next Mars mission announced. Artificial retina mimicks coding system of healthy retina to restore vision. Ocean Report Card details effects of climate change. The brain's mechanism for cleaning waste discovered, and new findings about formate could lead to new approaches for antibiotics.
8/24/201240 minutes, 32 seconds
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SoT 68: Wet Dog Shaking

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday. Topics covered: The vigorous shaking of a wet dog can remove up to 70% of the water in its fur in four seconds. Possibly up to three species of ancient humans lived in Africa 2 million years ago. A new insect species is discovered, thanks to Flickr. Could allergies reduce the risk of certain brain cancers? And did bacteria influence single-celled organisms to form multi-celled animals?
8/20/201227 minutes, 49 seconds
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SoT Special - Curiosity Landing

The Mars Science Laboratory, called "Curiosity", is the largest spacecraft we've sent to another planet. Weighing 900kg, packed with ten scientific instruments, 17 cameras and a nuclear power source the rover is looking for signs that Mars could have supported life at some point. I caught up with Lucas Randal, Sumen Rai and Alan Kerlin to talk about the complicated Entry, Descent and Landing procedure and the rover's two-year mission. Watch the incredible 7 Minutes of Teror video. Related links and stories we talked about in this show: Curiosity puts wheels on Mars via Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex Alan Kerlin's blog, featuring lots of interviews with people related to the mission Mars in a Minute: How Hard Is It to Land Curiosity on Mars? Emily Lakdawalla's detailled breakdown of the Entry/Descent/Landing: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 Mars Landing Broadcast on Ustream Outperforms Cable TV, Company Says NASA's 'Mohawk Guy' draws 'Curiosity' of his own NASA's constantly updating image archive This episode uses clips from various NASA productions believed to be in the public domain, and an excerpt from This Week in Tech's special Curiosity episode, used under the Creative Commons license.
8/12/201250 minutes, 59 seconds
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SoT 67: More Wobble Boards

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Mick Vagg, Vanessa Hill. Topics covered: The Mars Space Laboratory, the Curiosity rover, is set to land on Mars on Monday. An artificial jellyfish made from rat heart cells. Pain and proximity: how pain affects our spacial awareness. Elderly termites become suicide bombers to protect the nest. Has music 'quality' and variety worsened over the years?
8/2/201224 minutes, 13 seconds
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SoT 66: The Five Hour Quickie

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely, Micaela Jemison, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: Helen talks about her work at the Australian Synchrotron, and Shayne explains the chicken vaccines that became a virus. White Nose Syndrome is a fungal disease wiping out populations of bats in North America. A molecule that enables bacteria such as E. Coli to infect cells has been discovered, and physicists have broken a world record by firing 192 lasers and delivering more than 500 trillion watts of power.
7/27/201241 minutes, 20 seconds
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SoT 65: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Vanessa Vaughan. Topics covered: Fruitflies trained to count, the magnetic cells that help fish navigate, and the trade offs for having big brains. A fifth moon discovered orbiting Pluto, and the most complete skeleton of Australopithicus sediba is found. The trick used by cancer to spread through the bloodstream is identified, and the effects of gastric bypass surgery on gut bacteria.
7/20/201235 minutes, 46 seconds
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SoT 64: Let's Go On A Journey

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday. Topics covered: Spray-on rechargeable batteries, parents are less likely to catch colds. A 'Jekyl and Hyde' bacteria that helps worms but kills insects. Global warming causing shrinking trees, and causing more cyanobacterial toxins in our rivers and lakes.
7/13/201226 minutes, 44 seconds
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SoT 63: It May Have Helped Harry Potter

Hosts: Ed Brown, Kate Naughton, Mags Lum, Upulie Divisekera. Topics covered: Dear Sir David - write your tributes to a great science communicator. Physicists at CERN have discovered 'Higgs-like' particle. Oxygen injections keep rabbits alive without breathing. Geckos evolved (and lost) their sticky feet many times. A new technique allows doctors to see inside tissues without cutting the skin. And for invasive sea stars, our shipping ports are "hotspots of exotic free-spawning sex".
7/6/201248 minutes, 53 seconds
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SoT 62: The Century of Complex Systems

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday. Topics covered: Early warning system for El Nino weather pattern, the mysteries of the gut microbiome. Pests are adapting to the toxins produced by genetically modified crops, and a study suggests lo-fat dressings don't allow you to absorb the most nutrients from a salad. And a TEDx talk by former astronaut Ed Lu about remote monitors in the oceans.
7/1/201240 minutes, 48 seconds
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SoT 61: You Still Need a Golf Club

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Prof. Daniel Midgely. Topics covered: Gorillas use hand gestures to talk to their children, repeating it like 'baby talk'. Primates may first have spread from Africa to Asia, then back to Africa before humans evolved and spread Out of Africa. The chainmain on bacteria finally revealed. To teach a robot, start with a baby robot. The secret weapon against cane toads: cannibal cane toads! Wider spacing between letters makes reading easier for dyslexic children. Voyager 1 is leaving our solar system... sort of.
6/24/201250 minutes, 57 seconds
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SoT 60: Pain Prone Personalities

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Dr. Mick Vagg. Topics covered: Pain medication derived from cannabis vs opioids. A new theory about why giant insects died out 130 million years ago. Giant raindrops have almost no effect on small mosquitoes. Study of the Gulf of Mexico shows dramatic changes to the microscopic ecosystems after the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. Overfed fruit flies develop insulin resistance, just like humans. And researchers have sequenced the genome of an unborn baby with 98% accuracy.
6/16/201250 minutes, 53 seconds
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SoT 59: Might As Well Be Blind

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Jo Benhamu. Topics covered: A new study suggest there really is an "old people's smell". A combination of therapies help rats with severed spinal cords walk again. Fruit flies prove a genetic link for Restless Leg Syndrome. Carbon found in a Mars meteorite is probably volcanic, and not related to life. Astronaut vision loss and cranial hypertension may be the result of an inability to process vitamins in space. The cartoons were right - 'evil eyebrows' and a beard trigger our primal 'threat' instinct. A new study supports the Mediterranean diet as beneficial for 'quality of life'. Two new elements on the Periodic table, and sarcastic computers might not be far away.
6/10/20121 hour, 2 minutes, 15 seconds
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SoT 58: Dreaming of Batman

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Vanessa Hill, Micaela Jemison. Topics covered: Micaela discusses the importance of micro-bats for keeping insects under control. For more information check the Australasian Bat Society website, in particular their excellent Fact Sheets. Vanessa tells us about Launchpod, her new podcast exploring the many different careers available in space-related fields. Two Site Solution: The SKA to be built in Australia AND South Africa. SpaceX successfully launches and docks Dragon, the first privately built spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station. A cotton T-shirt that acts like a capacitor and could be used to charge mobile phones. Glasses that enhance vision for the visually impaired by artificially colouring objects according to their distance. The World Health Organisation releases its One Year Report on Fukushima, and it's pretty good news. And we discuss the upcoming Transit of Venus and the partial lunar eclipse.
6/3/201242 minutes, 57 seconds
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SoT 57: Crushed By A Genital

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall, Kate Naughton. Topics covered: Stroke victims control a robotic arm using just their thoughts. By rerouting nerves, surgeons restore some hand motion to a quadriplegic. Possibly the oldest cave art we know of features female genitalia. Transplanting human genes into zebrafish gives some clues about the genetics of autism, schitzophrenia and obesity. Scientists develop a potential malarial vaccine, from algae. Some viruses, stacked on top of each other, can be used to produce electricity.
5/26/201245 minutes, 56 seconds
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SoT 56: Our Chimps Are Very Nice

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday. Topics covered: Dogs that yawn when their owners do - the only case of contagious yawning crossing species. Santino the Stone-Throwing Chimp gives us more evidence to suggest he plans for the future. A new coating kills bacteria not with chemicals, but by crushing them. The 'Grandmother Hypothesis' could explain link between breast cancer and high fertility. Living near forests or farms rather then urban environments could mean fewer allergies. Kiwifruit-destroying bacteria tracked back to two different strains from China and Italy.
5/20/201243 minutes, 23 seconds
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SoT 55: Who Owns An Asteroid?

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall, Steve Nerlich. Topics covered: Planetary Resources, a company backed by several billionaires, plans to mine asteroids in space - and it's not as crazy as you might think. Brain scans of dogs could give clues about how they understand language and emotions. Koalas are now considered vulnerable and added to the threatened species list. The liver plays a role in resetting the body clock after jetlag or shift work. The ESA's next mission to get the go-ahead could be JUICE, the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer.
5/12/201257 minutes, 12 seconds
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SoT 54: A Guy Called Herbert

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Adam vanLangenberg, Kate Naughton. Topics covered: Early tetrapods used their body armour for breathing. Using your brain as your password. A lack of diversity in Tasmanian Tigers led to their extinction, and Tasmanian Devils are facing a similar fate. Drugged honeybees give insights into jetlag and body clocks. Does thinking in a foreign language make you more rational? What makes people seem 'creepy'? A new mathetmatics model predicts the proportion of left-handed people in sports like boxing and golf.
5/6/201247 minutes, 27 seconds
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SoT Special - Friends of Science in Medicine

In early 2012, the lobby group Friends of Science in Medicine wrote to the vice-chancellors of Australia's universities asking them not to allow the establishment of unscientific alternative medicine courses. Established only five months ago, Friends of Science in Medicine now boasts more than 500 members. They are currently campaigning "to reverse the current trend which sees government-funded tertiary institutions offering courses in the health care sciences that are not underpinned by  sound scientific evidence". Shayne and I caught up with Dr. Rob Morrison, a co-founder and Vice President of Friends of Science in Medicine. Rob has won two Eureka Prizes, was Senior Australian of the Year for South Australia in 2008 and is a Professorial Fellow at Flinders University. Also he co-hosted The Curiosity Show for 18 years.
4/28/201223 minutes, 52 seconds
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SoT 53: Rats of the Sky

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph and Penny Dumsday. Topics covered: Bacteria found in a remote, isolated cave is resistant to most of our antibiotics. Baboons can recognise English words, even ones they've never seen before. A robot helps understand the 'cocktail party problem', where we can filter out background noise and concentrate on a conversation. The largest study of its kind finds a single gene linked to intelligence. How pidgeons sense magnetic fields to help them migrate long distances remains a mystery.
4/22/201238 minutes, 13 seconds
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SoT 52: They're Bees, Not Borg

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph and Penny Dumsday. Topics covered: A portable plasma gun that zaps bacteria, the ability to identify a person from their RNA, and the risk of brain tumours from dental x-rays. The Japanese honeybee giant ball of death, and how evolution copies itself. A build up of carbon dioxide ended the last ice age, and why hyenas are giving up meat for Lent.
4/13/201237 minutes, 17 seconds
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SoT 51: Even Crazier Mutants

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Tom Sidwell. Topics covered: A new strain of the pertussis bacteria may reduce the effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccine - but only slightly. The gut microflora may be a lot more complicated than previously thought. A new study casts doubt on the most widely accepted theory of the moon's creation. Human ancestors may have mastered fire a million years ago - much earlier than previously thought. A new imaging technique reveals stunning grid-like structures in the brain. And the genetic mutation in van Gogh's sunflowers.
4/7/201244 minutes, 48 seconds
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SoT 50: The Little Green Sub

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Maia Sauren. Topics covered: How the shape of your head affects the energy coming from your mobile phone. James Cameron becomes the first person to dive solo to the Earth's deepest point. Federal and state governments continue to fund the Australian Synchrotron. A new theory to explain the extinction of Australian megafauna could explain ancient climate change. The giant paper aeroplane that flies. New peanut allergy test is safer and more reliable. Wave-particle duality applies to molecules, not just light. How lying makes you feel much better... or much worse.
3/31/201237 minutes, 19 seconds
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SoT 49: Drunk, Lonely Fruit Flies

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: When turned down by a lady, male fruit flies will drown their sorrows in alcohol. A fossil of the oldest animal with a skeleton is pre-Cambrian. Russia's got big plans for space, although space travel could cause eye and brain problems. Salt-tolerant wheat crop developed, and a new theory about why the giant squid has enormous eyes.
3/23/201245 minutes, 40 seconds
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SoT 48: A Good One For Scrabble

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: Wearing red clothing may be giving sexual signals to men, an iron spike could explain how bacteriophages attack bacteria, Sequencing the 5,300 year old DNA of Otzi reveals his many ailments. Why we should break up sitting times, the genetically engineered bacteria that could help fight climate change. Social skills linked to daydreaming brain, testosterone makes us bad collaborators, reproductive eggs (oocytes) could be grown from stem cells, and the coronal mass ejection heading towards Earth.
3/10/201246 minutes, 32 seconds
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SoT Special - ASC2012

The Australian Science Communicators National Conference was held at the Sydney Masonic Centre from 27 to 29 February. Opened with an address from Australia's Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, the conference was three days filled with inspiring stories, intriguing ideas and vigorous discussion. After the conference I caught up with Kylie Sturgess, Dr. Krystal Evans and Sarah Keenihan to get their thoughts. Links: Australian Science Communicators National Conference 2012 Website Kylie's live blogs Live-Blogging #ASC2012 – Monday Morning At The Australian Science Communicators National Conference “We’re Trending In Sydney!” First Day Of Twitter At The The Australian Science Communicators National Conference Live-Blogging The #ASC2012 – Science Communication Is What I Want To Do… Now What? Live-Blogging The Sophisticated Social Media Use And Science #ASC2012 Live-Blogging The #ASC2012 – What’s The Buzz? What’s New In Science Televsion Storify Day 2 Storify Day 3 I'm A Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here! McKeon Review
3/6/201246 minutes, 34 seconds
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SoT 47: Its Got A Kids Corner

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Sumen Rai. Topics covered: Meat grown in a lab could be in a hamburger later this year. Australian physicists have created the first fully-functioning single-atom transistor. Recent images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter suggest the moon is still seismically active. Fish follow their robot leader, the discovery of a watery planet that is nothing like Kevin Kostner, and Australia's plans for space involvement.
3/2/201243 minutes, 8 seconds
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SoT 46: Better Than Clay Pots

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: Nanotech turns plants into common plastic, subdermal implants delivering medications, a satellite-terminator that destroys obsolete or dead satellites, and the mutant genes in your genome. Low-oxygen environments during pregnancy can predispose a baby to heart disease, Venus' surprising slowing rotation, and an update on the faster-than-light neutrinos.
2/23/201246 minutes, 52 seconds
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SoT 45: Hardcore Honey Badger

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday. Topics covered: New supercontinent 'Amasia' to form in 100 million years, and the Zebra's peculiar stripes may ward off dangerous flies. The physiological effects of massage have been studied, and reveal unexpected gene expression. Fasting mice have a better chance of beating cancer, and climate change could be affecting microbial life in Antarctica.
2/19/201225 minutes, 27 seconds
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SoT 44: An Elevated Risk Of Blowing Up

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: Russian scientists drill through 4km of ice to a 20 million year old pristine lake. The controversial bacteria and arsenic story from 2010 is back, this time with a new experiment showing different results. Gene expression in astronauts may be altered by zero-gravity, according to levitating fruit-flies. US Scientists are calling for a tax on sugar, saying it's as dangerous and addictive as tobacco or alcohol. And Australian scientists want to use the DNA from three parents, to reduce the risk of inheriting diseases.
2/10/201244 minutes, 55 seconds
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SoT 43: Archaeopteryx Was A Goth

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Tom Sidwell, Dr. Paul Willis. Topics covered: How long does it take for a mouse-sized animal to evolve to the size of an elephant? Should Australia introduce elephants to reduce bushfires? Analysis of an Archaeopteryx feather reveals the early bird had black plumage. The first human trials of embryonic stem cells suggests the procedure is safe could treat eye disease. Coral from the Great Barrier Reef is being frozen, in an effort to store a genetic record of the reef's diveristy. Studying the brains of people tripping on magic mushrooms could provide clues to new anti-depression drugs. Genetic factors only account for about a quarter of the changes in intelligence over our lives.
2/2/201243 minutes, 32 seconds
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SoT 42: Sounds Like A Job For My Optical Tweezers

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: Research linking HRT to cancer contains many faults, rising carbon dioxide levels are affecting fish brains, multicellular life evolves in a laboratory. Scientists create the world's smallest ear, experts divided about adding leap seconds, the Tasmanian Tiger is definitely extinct.
1/27/201233 minutes, 32 seconds
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SoT 41: No Riding On The Manta Rays

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Kylie Sturgess. Topics covered: Chinese hangover treatment offers hope for alcohol antidote, warmer nests mean smarter lizards, and mantra rays could be at risk of extinction because of non-traditional traditional chinese medicine. The giant Galapagos Tortoise could be brought back from the brink of extinction, a lost collection of fossils collected by Darwin has been found and what you should and shouldn't be critical of with science journalism.
1/20/201242 minutes, 45 seconds
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SoT 40: U R Dumped, lol

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: Octopuses edit their RNA to beat the cold, dogs can follow a human's gaze, NASA investigating bacteria-fueled micro-robots, supersoldier ants, communication disadvantages of text compared to speech, and a new estimation of exoplanets indicates they are remarkably common.
1/14/201248 minutes, 29 seconds
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SoT 39: The Justin Bieber of Classical Music

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall, Adam vanLangenberg. Topics covered: NASA's GRAIL probes in orbit around the moon, hybrid sharks found off the coast of Australia, and can top violinists tell the difference between a US$1 million Stradivarius and a more modern concert-grade violin? Water can determine the spiciness of chillis, due to an evolutionary trade-off. Adam vanLangenberg is a high school maths teacher and writes for Subterranean Death Cult, a new pop culture blog. He was recently profiled for an article in The Age, about the Skeptical Society he's started at his school.
1/8/201233 minutes, 35 seconds
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SoT 38: A Very Spidery Christmas

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: Mitochondria - the 'power-plants' inside cells - might be ancient parasites. Body hair may help us spot parasites, and tiny hairs on spiders help them hear. There could be large oceans of liquid water deep underground on Mars, and more than half of all Australian men diagnosed with cancer have turned to 'alternate' medicine.
12/24/201145 minutes, 24 seconds
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SoT 37: A Press Conference of Nothing

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: Study shows rats have empathy, helping other rats escape. Carbon sequestration is likely to be too costly to combat climate change. Doctors take a stand against chiropractors - and is this the age of superstition? CERN calls a press conference and doesn't tell us very much. And the fossilised remains of a scary pre-cambrian superpredator is found with remarkable eyes.
12/18/201130 minutes, 40 seconds
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SoT 36: BREED! Or Be Miserable!

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Aimee Whitcroft. Topics covered: Baby turtles with wi-fi! They can listen in to each other's heartbeats! Wasps have a surprisingly good ability to recognise faces. Genetically engineered neurons that light up when firing. When do women take bigger risks, and do childless women really have poorer health? And climate change has had an unusual effect on ladybugs. Aimee Whitcroft is a New Zealand-based science blogger. She is co-founder of the SciBlogs network and co-host of The Official SciBlogs Podcast.
12/9/201138 minutes, 51 seconds
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SoT 35: Jurassic Asteroid

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Elf Eldridge. Topics covered: Pregnancy is hard enough for humans, but a study shows the high energy cost to pregnant dolphins. Paleontologists in China have discovered the remains of a bird inside the stomach of a Microraptor dinosaur. The successful embedding of an LED in a contact lens paves the way for head-up-displays and augmented reality. A 70-million year old nest has been found, with the remains of 15 baby protoceratops dinosaurs. The switch to an agricultural society has led to a shortening of the human jaw, and therefore crooked teeth. Elf Eldridge is a Physics PhD student at the MacDiarmid Institute where he works on developing nanopore technology. He is also a science communicator, a blogger for the SciBlogs network and co-host of The Official Sciblogs Podcast.
11/30/201130 minutes, 33 seconds
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SoT 34: Stupid Little Worms

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Krystal Evans. Topics covered: Dr. Krystal gives us an in-depth progress report on malaria treatment - is this the year we start winning the war on malaria? Also Penny tells us how nematode worms can distinguish good bacteria from harmful bacteria, and the discovery of two sunken 'mini-continents' off the coast of West Australia. Plus an update on the troubled Phobos-Grunt probe - it's alive! And more results for those faster-than-light neutrinos. Dr. Krystal is a malaria researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.
11/23/201146 minutes, 26 seconds
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SoT 33: It's Russian For Dirt

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall, Vanessa Hill. Topics covered: NASA's next Mars rover, Curiosity, is about to launch - and a Russian Mars probe is in trouble. A new drug helps fat monkeys get slim, a new model explores the shape of continental plates. Autism could be caused by too many brain cells in a key area of the brain, the Spotted Horse may have existed 25,000 years ago, and a new approach to lung cancer treatment. Vanessa Hill is an education officer for CSIRO, Australia’s national science organisation.
11/17/201144 minutes, 24 seconds
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SoT 32: A Freezer Full of Drool

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall and Adam vanLangenberg. Topics Covered: Does being happy make you live longer? NASA wants rovers with tractor beams, billion year old bacteria created, the mystery of the Ice Age Beasts and did "too much fracking" cause earthquakes in England? Plus a squabble about Klingons, Romulans and Battlestar Galactica. Yeah, we get nerdy. Adam vanLangenberg is a mathematics teacher and host of Mathematical Punch-Ons.
11/12/201136 minutes, 29 seconds
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SoT 31: Tasty Human Nom Noms

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall and Jo Benhamu. Topics covered: BPA "linked" to behaviour problems in girls - it really isn't, as Food Standards Australia & New Zealand show. And why haven't we heard about the "Majestically Scientific" study earlier this year? On a related 'science in government policy' note, we look at the West Australian shark cull - is it a Hollywood response to real horror? A study links heavy metal music to depression, a Burmese Python's heart can expand nearly twice it's original size, Archaeopteryx reclaims the title of first bird, and dwarf planet Eris is roughly the same size as dwarf planet Pluto. Jo Benhamu is a specialist nurse (Acute Care/Gastroenterology), a reporter for the Skeptic Zone podcast, and a committee member of Australian Skeptics.
11/3/201142 minutes, 38 seconds
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SoT 30: Plucky Little Cycads

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, and Lucas Randall. Topics covered: A new way to turn adult cells into embryonic stem cells, Cycads not so ancient after all, nanotube fibres that twist and untwist could propel nanobots. Astronomers may have directly imaged a planet in the process of forming, the IQ of teenagers fluctuates, and the world's biggest virus: MEGAVIRUS. The book Penny mentions is Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, by Stephen Jay Gould.
10/27/201139 minutes, 29 seconds
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SoT Special: RetractionWatch

It is estimated that in 2006 alone there were 1.3 million papers published in 23,750 scientific journals. But what happens when a paper gets 'unpublished' - withdrawn or retracted? I caught up with Dr. Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, founders of RetractionWatch. A blog that follows retractions as they happen and investigates the stories behind them, RetractionWatch uncovers a world of falsified data, plagiarism and ethics violations.
10/20/201132 minutes, 9 seconds
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SoT 29: The Nobel Prizes

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall. Topics covered: We take a look at the 2011 Nobel Prizes for Physiology or Medicine, Chemistry and Physics. The story of the Nobel Medals and the Nazis, and who caught The Nobel Disease? The book that Lucas mentions about the climate change denial industry is Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.
10/16/201138 minutes, 50 seconds
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SoT 28: Bugs Bonking Bottles - The Ig Nobel Prizes

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Kylie Sturgess and Aimee Whitcroft The 2011 Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make us laugh, then make us think. We take a look at this year's winners: from a study of beetles that really like beer bottles to 'structured procrastination'. Aimee Whitcroft is a science blogger and co-founder of the SciBlogs network in New Zealand. She co-hosts The Official SciBlogs Podcast, and next year is planning to do the Mongol Rally.
10/6/201143 minutes, 19 seconds
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SoT 27: If It Moves, Paint It White

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, and Penny Dumsday. Topics covered: Male squids appear to have sex with male and female squids, neutrinos might travel faster than light, and the DNA of an Australian Aborigine gives insights into the early migration out of Africa. Plus the discovery of a gene linking high fat food to diabetes and a study about cooperation in chimpanzees reveals stark differences to humans. Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
9/29/201138 minutes, 40 seconds
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SoT 26: Words Not Good Now

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, and Lucas Randall. Topics covered: A new clutch of genetic mutations linked to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, online gamers have deciphered the structure of an enzyme that has long eluded scientists, and Victoria’s dolphins have been formally recognised as a new species. Plus Australia's northward drift has shed light on the causes of long-term sea level change, the James Webb Space Telescope gets a ray of hope, NASA announces a new rocket and the spooky living billboard that advertises the Hollywood blockbuster Contagion.
9/25/201156 minutes, 40 seconds
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SoT 25: There was a red shoe...

Hosts: Lucas Randall, Penny Dumsday, Kylie Sturgess. Topics Covered: Diamond planets, climate change and the scientific method Despite winning acclaim for his children's book on evolution, Daniel Loxton faced some challenges getting published in the US Are wild birds learning to speak from their previously domesticated cousins? New study provokes a re-think on dingoes' history It may not be up to sci-fi standards, but 'suspended animation' is ready for clinical trials as a life-saving technique Near-death experiences may indeed be all in the mind, triggered by changes in serotonin levels
9/17/201140 minutes, 31 seconds
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SoT 24: Fistulated cows and toxic bats

Hosts: Lucas Randall, Dr Shayne Joseph and Dr Rachael Dunlop. Topics covered: - Rachael Dunlop's research at the HRI in to the links between motor-neuron disease and blue-green algae- A gene defect appears to cause the most common sight-disorder, near-signtedness or Myopa- A team has found an association between long-term dietary patterns and the bacteria of the human gut- Blood shortages are a global problem, and a French team have now published the results of their study which may be a crucial step towards addressing it - with stem cells- A newly discovered star which formed back when the universe was just a toddler is challenging our current understanding of star-formation- Cognitive dissonance FTW
9/10/20111 hour, 22 seconds
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SoT 23: Open-Pit Mines are Scenic

Hosts: Lucas Randall, Dr. Shayne Joseph and Penny Dumsday. Topics covered: - Jumping genes helped evolution- Cavemen sex gave humans a health boost- International team discovers planet made of diamond- Fossil Discovery Represents New Milestone in Early Mammal Evolution- Kamikaze Satellite Could Be Earth’s Last Defense Against Asteroid- Fossils hints on Earth’s first life- Fruit bacteria to curb dengue
9/1/201144 minutes, 57 seconds
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SoT 22: Some Wrongness In There

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall Tom Sidwell and Mike McRae. Topics covered: Scientists reprogrammed the immune system to target cancer cells, and suicide bombing bacteria targets other bacteria. Can evolution be predicted? And a new study reveals the moon may be up to 70 million years younger than we thought. Mike McRae is a science writer for the CSIRO's education department and author of Tribal Science: Brains, Beliefs and Bad Ideas. He blogs at and is on Twitter.
8/25/201149 minutes, 21 seconds
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SoT 21: Don Who?

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall and Simon Taylor. Topics covered:  An electronic temporary tattoo is really really awesome! When developing medications, the differences between men and women - and even individuals - aren't always taken into account. Mealybugs have bacteria living in their bacteria! The European Space Agency plans to hurl a spaceship at an asteroid to see if they can change it's course, and our panel takes the National Science Week Fact or Fiction test.
8/18/201152 minutes, 19 seconds
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SoT 20: Smooshed

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall and Kylie Sturgess. Topics covered: Earth may have had a second moon billions of years ago, 'comfort food' works not just by taste but also in the gut, and your belly button is a bacterial zoo. Scientists have 'sorta' made sperm in a lab, vampire bats have a molecular heat sensor and is there flowing water on Mars? An award-winning Philosophy teacher with over ten years experience in education, Kylie Sturgess has lectured on teaching critical thinking, feminism, new media and anomalistic beliefs worldwide. She is a member of the JREF Education Advisory Panel and regularly writes editorial for numerous publications and CSI’s ‘Curiouser and Curiouser’ online column. In 2010, Kylie was a co-author of the paper ‘The structure of superstitious action – A further analysis of fresh evidence‘, in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, a peer-reviewed publication. It involves a re-analysis of Wiseman and Watt’s short scales of positive and negative superstitions. Kylie blogs at PodBlack Cat, hosts the Token Skeptic podcast and is on Twitter. Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members. Duration:0:47:14
8/10/201147 minutes, 16 seconds
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SoT 19: Piece by Piece

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall and Tom Sidwell. Topics covered: People living in polar regions have bigger eyes and bigger brains. Neaderthals might have been wiped out by the sheer numbers of modern humans. Trojan asteroid discovered sharing Earth's orbit. Volcanoes discovered on the moon suggest it was geologically active only 800 million years ago, much more recently than previously thought. Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members. Duration:0:28:58
8/4/201128 minutes, 59 seconds
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SoT Special: Why We've Stopped Trusting Science, by Leslie Cannold

On Thursday Dr. Leslie Cannold - author, ethicist, commentator and award-winning columnist - spoke to a packed audience at Embiggen Books. She spoke about the various social and economic forces undermining trust in science, and what can be done to restore that trust. Embiggen Books is Melbourne's newest bookshop, specialising in scientific and skeptical books. According to their website, they boast “the biggest range of popular science titles instock in the observable universe”. They also have a growing range of technical science books as well as fiction, history, economics and much more. This event was organised by Embiggen Books, Melbourne Skeptics and Melbourne Eastern Hills Skeptics.
7/30/20111 hour, 27 minutes, 36 seconds
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Sot 18: Mighty Mouse

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall and Belinda Nicholson. Topics covered: Belinda tells us a bit about working at the Gemini South Observatory in Chile, and the possible cancellation of the James Webb Space Telescope. We talk about Pluto's new moon, the mouse that stole a poison-resistance gene from another species, and the mouse that runs a lot more because it's missing a gene. A high school class DNA-tested lots of tea and found some surprising extras. And while talking about that last story, something happened. Not sure what, but the recording stopped abruptly and we never realised. We talked a lot about a how the mass-extinction event that happened right before the dinosaurs started to rule the world, probably happened a lot quicker than previously thought. Ed gives a summary of the study at the end, and links to the story can be found on our website. Belinda Nicholson is an astrophysicist and Masters of Science student at Melbourne University. Duration: 0:40:40
7/27/201140 minutes, 30 seconds
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SoT 17: Google Sensibly

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall and Dr. Krystal Evans. Topics covered: We find out about Dr. Krystal's work developing a live malaria vaccine. The internet and search engines are changing how our memory works, a study sheds new light on the effectiveness of carbon sinks, but parks and gardens in cities are often overlooked carbon sinks. Genome-wide association studies lack racial diversity, a 'Roundup Ready' GM lawn could make stronger weeds, and the crops Greenpeace destroyed were of negligible risk. Also scientists have now mapped the complicated genome of the potato and a Great Barrier Reef coral. Dr. Krystal Evans is a regular panellist on 102.7FM Triple R's science program Einstein a Go Go, she's a malaria researcher working at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute and was instrumental in the Discoveries Need Dollars campaign that we talked about a few weeks ago when science funding was looking like it would be slashed in the Federal Budget. Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members. Duration:0:48:45
7/20/201146 minutes, 26 seconds
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SoT 16: Cute 'n' Cuddly

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, and Dr. Shayne Joseph Topics covered: The end of an era - Space Shuttle Atlantis launches for the last time ever. Is Australia overdue for volcanic eruptions? Polar bears share a common ancestor with brown bears. NASA tests a suit that recycles astronaut's urine, and humans cling to old beliefs even when repeatedly shown contradictory evidence. Shayne and Ed rant about Greenpeace protestors destroying GM wheat experiments. Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members. Duration:0:48:45
7/14/201148 minutes, 46 seconds
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SoT 15: Death Can Be Stressful

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph and Tom Sidwell Topics covered: E coli outbreak blamed on Egyptian fenugreek seeds, Gossamer puts DNA together, Fossils reveal rapid evolution in ancient eyes, Bringing Prehistoric Colors Back to Life, Humans dwarf volcanoes for CO2 emissions, Lord Christopher Monckton interview with Adam Spencer. Tom Sidwell has completed a Bachelor of Science, with majors in immunology and microbiology (minors in molecular biology and biochemistry). He is currently doing honours in Immunology, studying the development of regulatory T cells. He blogs at and is on Twitter at kill3rTcell.
7/7/201138 minutes, 36 seconds
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SoT 14: I don't think the rats are happy

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Shayne Joseph and Lucas Randall Topics covered: Should pregnant women sleep on their left? Will the end of the sunspot cycle counteract global warming? Geysers reveal likely ocean on Saturn moon. Do dogs bark because humans guided their evolution? A new ointment could help the treatment of snakebites. New tribe of humans found in Brazil that have had no contact with the outside world. And a technique to control gene expression with the flick of a light switch. Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
6/30/201147 minutes, 16 seconds
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SoT 13: Robots Don't Exist

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, and Dr. Shayne Joseph Topics covered: Ecologists say not to worry about invasive species if they don't cause problems, pristine meteorites suggest the building blocks of life came from outer space, NASA's DAWN probe nearly at the asteroid Vesta, Tamarind seeds regrow nerves and is your coffee causing you to hallucinate? Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members. Duration: 0:36:19.
6/16/201136 minutes, 21 seconds
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Sot 12: The Honour Of The Cucumber

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Shayne Joseph and Simon Taylor Topics covered: DNA Sequencing Germany's 'Super Toxic' E. coli bacteria, Emperor penguins do the Mexican wave, the deepest multi-celled animal ever found, a look at the latest 'link' between mobile phones and cancer, a new look at moral dilemmas in hospitals and how do babies distinguish race? Simon Taylor is a magician, comedian, entertainer and writer with a fascination for the mind. His latest project, Flim Flam, is a weekly comic strip taking a humorous look at pseudo-science and the paranormal. His website is, he blogs at and tweets at @mrsimontaylor. Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
6/9/201144 minutes, 24 seconds
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SoT 11: If it doesn't have wings, it shouldn't fly

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday and Dr. Shayne Joseph Topics covered: Europe battling massive outbreak of rare and unusual bacterial infection, another look beneath Hawaii knocks islands off their riser pipe, bacteria create hail stones, a stomach bug may be linked to Parkinson’s, low solar activity may have caused a little ice age and a sad farewell to Mars rover Spirit. Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members. Download here. Duration: 0:41:35
6/2/201141 minutes, 36 seconds
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SoT 10: Bee Sceptical

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Shayne Joseph and Lucas Randall. Topics covered: Planets without stars, malaria prevents new super-infections, dark energy and other Einstein predictions proven, mobile phones are not killing bees. Our theme music, Step On It, is kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
5/26/201152 minutes, 1 second
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SoT 9: Left or Right Butt-cheek

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Shayne Joseph Topics covered: Nematodes reveal the secret to a long life, Unusual AIDS vaccine shows promising results in monkeys, Scientists find genetic link to depression, Desk job ups bowel cancer risk. Our theme music, Step On It, is kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
5/19/201122 minutes, 58 seconds
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SoT Special: Podblack’s Book Club with Embiggen Books

An event organised by the Melbourne Skeptics and the Melbourne Eastern Hills Skeptics saw a science, religion and philosophy teacher and a science-oriented bookseller discussing their favourite books. Kylie Sturgess is an award-winning blogger and fellow podcaster, a Philosophy and Religious Education teacher and writer for a number of Skeptic publications. In 2010 she co-authored a paper about superstition in Queensland, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal. Warren Bonett is from Embiggen Books, a bookshop formerly on the Sunshine Coast and now moving to Melbourne. Embiggen specialises in scientific and skeptical books and, according to their website, boasts "the biggest range of popular science titles instock in the observable universe". They also have a growing range of technical science books and even an art gallery.
5/17/20111 hour, 11 minutes, 21 seconds
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SoT 8: One Protein To Rule Them All

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Shayne Joseph Topics covered: Indian scientists drilling deep to predict earthquakes, Babysitting birds, Port Phillip Bay used to be a lake, and Faulty chaperone protein stops sperm finding eggs. Our theme music, Step On Up, is kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
5/12/201130 minutes, 31 seconds
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SoT 7: Respect The Pill

Hosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday Topics covered: Fire Ants Surf Floods on Rafts of Their Own Bodies, Laser Hole-Punch Turns Hair Into Forensic Time Machine, Oral Contraceptive Pill Increases Blood Clots, Groupthink Not a Problem in Simulated Mars Mission, Bacteria May or May Not Use DNA as an Antenna. And at the end, we rant a little bit about homeopathy. Our theme music, Step On Up, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
5/5/201138 minutes, 31 seconds
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SoT 6: Frolicking Death Trap

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Lucas Randall Topics covered: Language may have helped early humans spread out of Africa, Pluto's mysterious bulging atmosphere, Worlds with two suns may have black planets, Three 'types' of human gut bacteria found, Whales swim in a straight line, and a family of our ancestors get trapped down a hole. Our theme music, Step On Up, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
4/27/201144 minutes, 51 seconds
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SoT 5: Orogeny Isn't Dirty

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Shayne Joseph Topics covered: Older brains and multitasking, Cells grown in a dish have schizophrenia, Antibacterial duck sperm, Early birds had super smell, Earth's crusts float like yo-yos. Our theme music, Step On Up, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
4/21/201136 minutes, 4 seconds
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SoT 4: Special Cuddle Time

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Shayne Joseph and Lucas Randall Topics covered: Star-Eating Black Hole May Be Producing Universe's Biggest Explosion, Weight lowers dementia risk, Researchers Grow Protoeye in Dish, Magnets aid brain recovery, Cannibal viruses found in Antarctica, Discoveries Need Dollars, and Sex After a Field Trip Yields Scientific First Lucas Randall is an amateur astronomer, a skeptic and avid science lover. His Skeptic FAQis one of the best summaries of scientific skepticism. He blogs at and Tweets at Our theme music, Step On Up, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
4/14/201153 minutes, 56 seconds
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SoT 3: It's All Linked!

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday and Shayne Joseph Topics covered: Salamander Eggs and Symbiosis, Dead Stars and Exoplanets, Wasps vs Ants, Yuri's Night, Bacterial Toothpaste and An Ancient Mayfly Fossil Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
4/7/201132 minutes, 11 seconds
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SoT 2: The Princess Effect

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday and Shayne Joseph We had some audio problems and unfortunately this episode still has a crackle we were unable to remove. :( Topics covered: Cane Toads Break Evolution Rules, Damping Down Fear With Cortisol, Yuri's Night, Photos from Mercury, Geologists Aim For Mantle of the Earth, Most Ancient Fossils Aren't Life, Girls Fear Vaccines and Risk Cancer Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.
3/31/201140 minutes, 10 seconds
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SoT 1: We've Got Sex!

Hosts: Ed Brown, Penny Dumsday, Shayne Joseph Topics covered:  Supermoon, New Horizons Flies by Uranus, MESSENGER First Spacecraft to Orbit Mercury,Sperm's egg-seeking secrets revealed,Yuri’s Night,59 year old experiment gives new clues to origins of life, How A Dinosaur Is Like A Vacuum Cleaner, Sex Really Can Be Deadly, Study Finds Our theme music, Step On It, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.  
3/24/201141 minutes, 25 seconds
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Pilot Episode: We've Got The Giggles!

Our first test run has some issues - Penny is sick, half way through the interview Skype cut out, and then the internet gremlins destroyed the second half (which really was much, much better than the first half!). So here's where it all started, our first pilot episode. Hopefully we'll be more professional from now on! :)   Guests: high school science teacher Penny Dumsday, microbiologist Shayne Joseph.   Why we like science, passionate teachers, soil-dwelling flesh-eating bacteria and Shayne's 'intimate' relationship with his lecturer.   Our theme music, Step On Up, kindly provided by The Upstanding Members.  
3/17/201113 minutes, 55 seconds